Note: Inspired by a challenge from Farfalla.
"He's worth his weight in gold," the man with the nose-ring tells her, opening the glass case in which I am imprisoned. Illogical, of course. In this twenty-first century era, a piece of pure gold with equal weight to mine would cost hundreds of dollars-- certainly not a price I have ever been sold for.
The college girl looks at me. A pitifully eager, nervous expression crosses her face, and she shifts her pack from one shoulder to another. "Oh-- does he cost a lot?"
"He sure could-- but since I bought him, I can do what I like to the price. Let's see..." He turns me around, peeling off the label on the back of my uniform. "Twenty dollars. That's *real* cheap. You'll be getting a terrific bargain."
She smiles, all eagerness again, and lifts me up, carrying me across the room. No difficult feat, for she is enormous compared to me. Moments later, I become her possession, along with some hideous creatures she has also decided to buy: balls of multicolored fur, with rounded beaks, bulging eyes and widely protruding ears.
"I thought I'd splurge, since I just got a bunch of Christmas money," she laughs. "When I saw these things, I had to buy them just because I could. Just think, a few years and they're down from thousands of dollars to six bucks apiece. There's a new hot thing every holiday season, I guess."
The vendor nods. "And Spock would usually sell at forty or more, I can tell you. You're getting a great deal on him. Don't forget to check back; we'll be getting Klingons and tribbles in soon."
I am shoved into a bag and carried away to my new home.
I am nearly thirty years old, and have seen enough illogic for three times as many years. Strange beings have forced me to participate in their games. I have met multiple clones of myself and my crewmates, ranging widely in height, some paralyzed in the joints, some with their clothing fused to their bodies. I have been bought and sold innumerable times.
I am an eight-inch Mego action figure, representing Spock from the television show Star Trek. I was made in 1974. In the years I have existed, I have seen Star Trek many times, glimpsing a screen from my place in the corner of a playroom, or tucked in a child's hand at the movie theater.
The show fascinates me, not only in itself, but for the passions it ignites in those who watch it. There are so many devoted to it, obsessed with its technology, in love with its characters. Some even feel sure that there must be a universe where the events portrayed in Star Trek truly happen.
It is possible. Certainly, there are cosmic twists in which a bit of that universe seems to flash into this one. For example, there are those like me.
Not all action figures would be capable of setting forth a progression of thought as I am doing here. In fact, most of them are just what they seem to be: pieces of plastic shaped like fictional characters. But in the occasional rare fluke-- perhaps a connection with another universe, perhaps an effect of the powerful creative energy built up among the show's fans-- a spark of the essence of Star Trek finds a home in one of us.
I do not remember being made, and I am not sure exactly when I acquired the personality of Spock. I lack the memories of the character's life, but I know that I think like him. I have his logic; his orderly, scientific mind; his struggle to reconcile reason and emotion.
And I have his whole-souled devotion to James Kirk.
In all the Star Trek I have seen, the thing that has most struck me is my character's love and loyalty for his captain. My own feelings towards the character of Captain Kirk are the same. I feel that, if I knew him personally, I would be his closest friend. I would serve at his side forever. I would kill or die for him.
I rarely permit myself to dream, but when I do, I dream of being with him: not the version of him on television, but one like me. I dream that we sit together in a playroom or on a collector's shelf; perhaps there is a child who makes us act out a mission together, and perhaps, a few times, we are allowed to touch...
I have met a few others of my kind who were endowed with the minds of the characters they represented. We were able to communicate by thought, and to joke or raise psychic eyebrows while children put us through their ridiculous ideas of Star Trek scenarios. I became acquainted with an Uhura, a Scotty, a few Nurse Chapels, and even, once, a Sarek.
But I have never yet found a sentient Kirk.
If he exists, he must be truly rare. My dreams of meeting him are probably hopeless. Yet, if one has nothing else, one must allow oneself a few dreams.
Two days have passed, and I have become somewhat familiar with my environment. I have been given a place to sit on the third shelf of a large plastic shelving unit, in front of a doll that seems to be a gift from some foreign friend or relative. The Furbys occupy the top of a small drawer unit that sits on the shelf beneath mine.
Across the room from me, there is a window with several potted plants on the sill, including a poinsettia. Snow falls gently past them all day.
The room is where my owner sleeps and uses her laptop when she is at home. However, there is another computer here, which is used by the entire family. When the room's primary occupant is busy, people frequently enter the room, use the computer, and talk with each other and with her. She seems extremely irritated by this.
I also gather that the rest of the house is much messier than this room. Here, there are piles of clutter, but they are neat piles. There is space on the floor, which seems not to exist elsewhere in the house. Very little of the junk actually belongs to my owner; her family uses her room as a storage area for things that will not fit anywhere else. She keeps them as organized as she can, and reluctantly endures them. I can sense her impatience to finish college and have a home of her own.
When her parents and brother expressed shock at the presence of the Furbys, she replied, "They're my watch-Furbys. They're to keep people out. When people come in here and act annoying, they'll be annoying back." As soon as she discovered that unattended Furbys go to sleep and must be turned upside down to re-activate their annoying capacity, she gave up and took their batteries out.
She is intellectual but uncontrolled. Being telepathic, I perceive her thoughts and feelings easily. She is fascinated with my character: a poster of him hangs on her wall, and she spends most of her free time discussing Star Trek on newsgroups.
This activity brought something new to my attention, something strangely logical... something that turns my thoughts back to the dreams I've had over the years.
Not only is there an internet fandom for Star Trek, there is a huge creative community. My owner and her online friends write and share stories about Star Trek characters: their adventures in space, their battles, their diplomatic struggles... and their relationships with each other.
I should have expected that others besides me would have seen the romantic potential between the characters of Spock and Kirk. Still, I am surprised by the sheer volume of fan fiction that exists about them. The idea excites me, as it seems to excite the young lady who bought me. As she reads and writes stories about Kirk and Spock as lovers, I hear the words in her mind... and it makes me wish even more that I were with him.
She seems to have similar wishes for me. She is bidding on a Kirk doll on Ebay.
She rearranges things compulsively, I have found. She has put the Furbys in a box, and I now have their place on top of the little drawer unit. It is a roomier spot than where I previously sat, but she had to place me with my legs folded so that they would not hang in front of the top drawer.
I am grateful for this, since it is a position more conducive to meditation... and I must meditate often to maintain my calm.
Yes, she has succeeded in buying the Kirk figure, and is waiting for him to arrive in the mail. But there is no reason to assume that this will be my long-awaited soulmate. After thirty years without ever meeting an incarnation of Kirk that had a mind and could communicate with me, why should I expect to meet one now?
And yet I feel, with all my soul, that this is the time.
It is night. The room is dark, and I am dreaming.
I know it is a dream, for in the dream I can move by myself, striding across the red sands of a desert. There are no beings twelve times my height; no gigantic pieces of furniture surrounding me. The world is sized to my scale.
And I can hear his voice, resonating, caressing me.
"Spock, you're beautiful. I can't stop thinking about you... I can't wait to be with you. Spock..."
"Jim," I call out, feeling my own voice vibrate in reply, as it never could in reality. I turn my head, scanning the horizon frantically, but I cannot see him.
"I love the way you sound. Especially when you say my name. The way it rumbles through your throat. It sounds like an expression of absolute longing, as if you want us to be together, as if you want it so badly it hurts you. Spock. I love your name, it's beautiful. But I try to say it and express my feelings as eloquently as you do with my name, and I can't even come close. Your voice is so perfect. Say it again, Spock."
"Jim." It is a true cry of longing, now. I cannot even see him, and I want so badly to hold him. "Jim."
"Yes, Spock. Perfect. Do you remember when I found the Horta, and you ran to me through the caves, calling my name over and over?"
"That was on television," I murmur. "That never happened to us."
"But you've seen it! You remember. You know you have the same soul as the man who did that! You know that's what you'd have done if you had been there!"
"Jim!" I call out in passion, wanting to say his name, wanting him to hear me.
"Do you remember when you thought you had killed me, and then you saw me alive, and you grabbed me by the arms and shouted my name?"
"Jim!" I exclaim, putting all the joy of that moment into my cry.
"Do you remember when you saved me in that battle, and I almost took you in my arms, and you said--"
"That was in the fifth movie. I am from the episodes." I look down at my blue velour tunic.
"I don't care. We've both seen it, we both know that's what we'd do. Say it. Say it for me."
"Please, Captain, not in front of the Klingons." A warm rush of mirth pours into me all of a sudden. Jim. Jim. This is a man I can love and desire and trust with my soul, and now I know I can even laugh with him.
"Yes! It was just as wonderful as if you'd said my name, Spock. You're so perfect. *Spock*..."
"Jim," I moan. "I want you to be here with me."
"I will. Soon. Believe in your dreams, Spock. I'm dreaming this too."
And those are the words that echo in my mind as I wake.
Family members go in and out of the room, a bouncing terrier accompanying each entry and exit. My owner stares endlessly at the screen of her laptop, checking her email and her newsgroups, chatting with online friends. Through it all, I sit on the drawer unit on the shelf, wondering about dreams and reality.
Have I communicated with Jim, across all these miles, or have I only dreamt that I did? I know that many wishes that come true in dreams would never come true in life. Yet I also know that I am capable of sensing the thoughts of others... especially others like me, who can communicate only by thought.
I have never before made mental contact over more than the length of a room. Indeed, when I scan for Jim's mind now, I sense nothing. But perhaps some parts of the soul are more active in dreams. And perhaps Jim's soul is so attuned to mine that we can have occasional moments of contact, even when he is so far away.
Is it possible? Or am I so eager for my wishes to be fulfilled that it is corrupting my logic?
I wonder where he is now.
The payment was made on Tuesday. The order shipped on Wednesday morning. It is Sunday evening now. Jim has been in the mail for nearly five days.
I am in Minnesota. The shipment is coming from Massachusetts. The distance is... nine hundred miles? I am not certain.
How far does a shipment travel in a day? If a truck were traveling at sixty miles per hour, in a straight nine-hundred-mile line, it would arrive in fifteen hours, or 0.625 days. Jim would have been with me by Wednesday evening.
But trucks do not travel non-stop, or at constant speeds, or in straight lines. Certainly not between Massachusetts and Minnesota. A straight line between those locations would cross several Great Lakes.
Different delivery services take different amounts of time. My owner was not told which type of delivery was being used for this shipment.
In any case, I do not believe that the services are active on weekends. Jim is probably not moving at all now.
I am making myself insane. If only I were dreaming again...
It is Monday afternoon. She comes into the room and drops her backpack on the bed, somewhat more carefully than usual. The reason for the care is soon evident: she reaches into the outer pocket of the backpack, and pulls out an action figure.
Something leaps within me, but sinks again in a moment. The doll has brown hair, but its tunic is blue. A McCoy doll.
I allow myself an internal sigh. My Jim-- he is still out on the road, smothered in packaging, locked in the back of a truck, waiting to come to me. How much distance separates us? Neither of us knows. I must continue waiting, waiting...
But then she reaches into the pack again.
Hope surges up in my chest--
--and crashes, as she retrieves an Uhura figure.
I eavesdrop on her thoughts, long enough to ascertain that she has no more dolls in the backpack, and that she still does not know when Jim is going to arrive. As she glances around the room, she is disappointed not to see any packages left there for her. I sigh silently again.
Her brother knocks. "Come in," she calls from her seated position on the edge of the bed, where she has begun undressing Uhura.
He enters. "Can I tell you something really cool?" he says, enthusiasm radiating from him.
"I suppose so," she replies absently. Then she adds, mostly to herself, "I wonder if her shoes come off. Do they? I don't think they do." She tugs at one of them, then jumps slightly when it pops off in her hand. "I guess they do! But... hey, they aren't Star Trek shoes!" She holds it close to her eyes, scrutinizing it. "They're dumb little white tennis shoes; they probably came from a Barbie doll! Sheesh."
Discarding the shoes, she removes the brown tights and turns them inside-out. "What were you saying?"
"I was just on this website. They've figured out a way to make *frictionless bearings!*"
"You mean, like ball bearings, or air bearings, except with no friction at all?" She does an admirable job of appearing interested, but I can tell that her main emotion is disappointment at the number of holes in the seams of Uhura's pantyhose. She holds the small garment up for a moment, looking closely, then opens her backpack again and pulls out a sewing kit.
"Yeah! You want to know how they did it?"
"Superfluids? Like liquid helium?" Meticulously she threads a needle and starts to retrace the line of the broken seam with a new one of her own. For a moment she wonders if a package may have come for her and not been brought to her room. Then she reasons that her brother would have told her about it by now.
"Better than that. *Nanotubes!* They make a nanotube that slides into another nanotube, and it's absolutely frictionless because each bearing is just two molecules!" He ends the sentence looking at her expectantly, his grinning mouth slightly open.
"Wow! That's amazing!" She makes an amazed face long enough to impress upon him that she is duly amazed, then turns back to her work. As her brother waxes eloquent over nanotubes, she finishes the repair and turns the tights right-side-out again. Uhura's legs are slid gently back into them, but the result is not satisfying.
"They're completely the wrong size for her. I'm going to look up 'mint condition Mego Uhura' on the web and see if she really has tights like that, or if those came from a Barbie too."
"Where did you get the dolls, anyway?" her brother asks.
"The used toy store, the same place I got Spock. It's right next to Saint Sabrina's Parlor in Purgatory."
"Oh, I see." He grins and turns to leave.
"Did any packages come for me today?"
He pauses and considers. "There were two packages. I just assumed they were for Dad, though. I'll go look."
I feel her anticipation building, but it is nothing like mine. As soon as her brother leaves the room to check, she takes off McCoy's shirt and begins repairing another damaged seam. But I am too overjoyed and terrified to think.
All over, I feel hot and cold tingles. A Jim with the ability to feel, and think, and have long conversations with me, and love me... that would be a joy beyond imagination. An empty shell of Jim, sitting beside me like a corpse, would be unbearable suffering. In a moment, I shall discover which is destined for me... or I shall find out that I must wait another day for that knowledge.
"Well, what do you know," says the brother, returning with two padded envelopes. "You've got packages. And here I was assuming that Dad was the only one ordering things."
He hands them to her, and a wide smile spreads across her face: she has recognized the name of the Ebay seller on one of them.
"So what are they?" he queries.
"That one's Captain Kirk. This one is Guantanamera." Sitting down on her bed, she peels open the top of the larger envelope, casting the smaller one aside. I am burning up, but she is oblivious.
"A movie set in Cuba. I ordered it because-- well, partly because it's a neat movie, and partly because I want to give a presentation on it in Spanish class, when winter break ends. It's about this guy who..."
And on and on she goes, peeling open the envelope and pulling out the DVD case and picking the plastic wrapper off it, explaining the movie's plot all the while.
Can she not feel my distress? I am disintegrating in terror. My mind is spread all over the room for inability to contain its emotions, but I cannot sense a consciousness within the small package.
I want to cry so badly that I am sure tears will condense in my plastic eyes from the sheer force of my feelings... and yet I still cannot help feeling a small, wild hope...
And she has no idea. She is psi-null, incapable of telepathy, utterly unaware of what I am suffering.
She cannot help it; she is human, not one of us. I must calm this anger. I must calm my fear, and my hope, and everything I feel now. So many emotions will drive me mad--
She has set aside Guantanamera. She is reaching for Jim's package.
All the universe concentrates in her hands as she rips one end of it open. Her hand reaches inside and brings him out.
Oh, by all the stars in the Galaxy, he is beautiful. Yes, his body is stiff and unmoving, not striding forward with the force and grace of a lion. His hair is plain brown, painted on, not catching the light like a film of gold. But his eyes and his smile are perfectly captured... perfectly.
I can almost see a corner of his mouth quirking up a bit further; a shade of emerald crossing the hazel of his irises. I need him, I need him so badly. But I cannot sense his mind.
He is coming closer to me. The college girl who holds my destiny in her hands is now standing before my shelf... lifting me in her free hand... bringing me to face the image of my beloved.
She makes our hands touch.
And in that moment such a torrent of love and joy rushes in on me that I cannot form even the simplest thought; cannot feel anything but the universe of relief that washes me away through all possible dimensions of reality until I arrive back in this small space, facing my lifemate, feeling his thoughts at last.
*Yes. Say my name.*
I know I am smiling.
I know that I cannot smile. My mouth is molded and painted plastic. My soul is a spark of something indefinable, happening to reside in this artificial shell, able to feel and hear and see through it, but utterly incapable of making it move.
And yet I swear that I am smiling at this moment.
My owner sees it too... her eyes linger a moment on my painted, molded mouth, and a smile of her own begins to cross her lips.
She moves Jim and me toward each other, and... and we are kissing... for a brief, cataclysmic moment when all the energy of our souls flows through our plastic lips and mingles in the space of both our bodies. Stars explode and new stars are born. I am an atom that found another and joined to make something new and exciting and utterly different. I am an irrational square root that multiplied itself by another of its kind and became whole. I am no longer just Spock, I am... half of Kirk/Spock. And it feels like nothing I have ever experienced.
His eyes seem to sparkle at me as we are moved apart.
*And I you, Jim.*
Gentle fingers bend us into sitting positions. My left arm is stretched outward; the same is done to Jim's right. We are set together on top of the drawer unit, and his arm is tenderly curled over my shoulder; mine around his waist. The giant hands withdraw, and the giant face regards us for a moment, then smiles softly in satisfaction.
*I think she understands,* says Jim's voice in my mind.
We watch as she places the Uhura and McCoy figures on another shelf... comfortable, but carefully out of our sight, not intruding on our privacy.
*Yes. She understands.*
A flash of happiness sparks from him to me, a psychic smile. *I'm tired. It's been a long day for me. I'm glad to be able to rest next to you.*
*Shall we dream together again, Jim?*
*Yes, I would like that.* A heartbeat of love pulses through the arm on my shoulder, feeling as if he is tightening his grip there. *Let's dream we're in Iowa, this time. Curled up by the fire together, on Christmas Eve.*
*Yes,* I say passionately, then add, *Jim.*