Waking up suddenly and almost jumping out of his bed, Alfie found himself in a state of disarray and feeling startled. Looking around his room, the darkness was only broken up by the light blue reflections coming off from the dry-dock that hugged the Odyssey at the moment and that light that bounced off from the Mellstoxx sun onto the third planet they currently orbited. Blinking once, then twice, he calmed his rapid breathing and then closed his eyes as he rubbed his forehead. He could feel the sweat sticking to his head then opened his eyes to realise his chest was soaking as well. For the third time since they had left the Paulson Nebula, he had experienced another night of nightmares and once again he had a thumping headache.
Shoving the sheets off from him, he stood up and told the computer to activate his side lights on a low dim level. Shuffling across his room, he almost tripped over a pair of trousers that he had ripped off the night before and had left on the floor, Alfie made it over to the door and left. Entering the corridor that connected his bedroom alongside his brother’s bedrooms as well as his parents’ room, he made his way across the landing towards the family bathroom.
Turning the lights on, he arrived at one of the sinks and activated it. Straight away the tap came to life and water poured out. Cupping the water, he splashed the cool liquid over his face and then looked at himself in the mirror. His reflection showing his dishevelled appearance along with the huge dark circles under his eyes from the lack of sleep he was experiencing.
Realising he needed to get out and perhaps take a run, he returned to his room and put on some bagging clothing before he quietly left his quarters and began his early morning run.
Thankfully no-one else was around. The odd service bot was working but like his bedroom, the corridors of Odyssey were dimly lit. Heading towards the arboretum, he found the run helping. As he tried to chase away the nightmare with his exercise he couldn’t help but return to the images flashing in his mind that had disturbed his sleep.
The first set of images was that of his mother, alone on the bridge of the Telemachus, while another group was that of him seeing his father appearing older and wearing an admiral’s uniform, this was then followed by him seeing his brothers as youngsters playing their favourite childhood holoprogram of Captain Proton, then he watching the destruction of the Odyssey while being surrounded by a group of Remans or were they Klingons? None of it made sense but straight away it made him feel sick. Entering the arboretum, its fresher air helped somewhat but then he felt overwhelmed again. He felt his breathing become more, he felt his head was thumping more, he felt his body ache more.
Trying to calm himself down, he fell to the floor trying to catch his breath. Unable to control what was happening to him, the whole situation was now scaring him. What the hell was going on? He was unable to calm himself down. A sudden pain appeared in his chest. It hurt so much that it made him place his right hand over the affected area. He was now finding it hard to focus.
Looking up he heard what he thought was his name being called out and his vision started to become blurry as the pain got worse, his breathing increased and the headache felt like hot rods were being pushed into his skull. Eventually he saw a figure over him and all he saw were a pair of friendly bright blue eyes. Blinking once, then twice he saw Jorgeh looking at him with a concerned expression. The two of them had just started to get to know each other. Jorgeh had reached out more to Alfie after the memorial for Alfie’s mother. The two of them had almost become like kindred spirits in dealing with the recent loss of their mothers. Jorgeh had seemed like a decent guy and Alfie had felt for the first time he had the chance to have a real friend. Henri and Theo were dealing with the loss of their mother in their own way and had become more isolated in recent days since their father had broken the news to them.
Calling his name, Alfie felt like he couldn’t reach Jorgeh as more images from his nightmare flashed through his mind. These ones seemed to be causing him pain. Feeling Jorgeh rush to him and put his hands out, Alfie felt dizzy as he took one more glance at his new friend. That was all he saw before he collapsed and passed out onto the grass he was sitting on. He was out cold. Jorgeh immediately called Alfie’s name out one more time before he called for help.
Waking up, but this time a lot slower with more blinking, Alfie found himself in sickbay and he groaned inwards. What the hell had happened to him? His lips felt dry and he had a somewhat tingling feeling in his skull. He then remembered the headache. It wasn’t as bad as it was originally. Looking around he instantly saw Jorgeh, sitting on the edge of the biobed to his right reading a PADD. Instantly he looked up and jumped off the bed and made his way over to Alfie.
“Alfie,” He said with a concerned tone and expression, “you’re alive and okay!”
Suppressing a smirk and a chuckle at the extreme reaction that he had from Jorgeh, Alfie pushed himself up. “I’m fine, thanks.” He rubbed his eyes and tried to see if he could see any of the medical staff. “What happened?”
Shrugging his shoulders, “Sorry Alfie, I don’t know. I was out walking when I saw you and noticed you were struggling and before I could do anything else you passed out on me. You were beamed to sickbay and Doctor Slyvexs treated you.”
“Where is she?” Alfie asked as he looked around the room.
“Speaking to your dad and mine in her office.” Jorgeh answered and saw Alfie sigh somewhat at hearing that news. “Sorry, did I do the wrong thing by calling them?”
Instantly he shot up and shook his head, something he regretted straight after as he got a bit light-headed. “No Jorgeh, you did right and thank you.” Alfie answered. “I think I’m finding it hard to deal with what’s happened with my mom.”
Nodding to show he understood, Jorgeh gave a weak smile. “If you want to talk more,” Jorgeh offered with a slight shrug, “then I’m happy for us to chat.”
“I appreciate that Jorgeh, cheers.” Alfie answered, “I can only imagine what my dad is saying in there.”
Sitting in the chair opposite Slyvex’s desk with his hands clasped tightly in his lap, Captain McCallister listened intently to his doctor as she explained what she thought had happened to his son.
“I am certain from these scans that he suffered from some sort of an anxiety attack, which is no surprise.” Slyvexs shared, trying to provide a supportive environment for the captain. Thankfully she had come on early for her shift in sickbay when Jorgeh had raised the alarm about Alfie.
“I’ve noticed he hasn’t been sleeping as well since…” McCallister paused as he sighed lightly. “Since Karyn was lost.” He finished.
Nodding in agreement, Slyvexs explained her scans had shown he was not properly rested. “However I am detecting that his neurotransmitter levels are highly elevated. This is quite unusual.”
McCallister looked over to Duncan and Court, who had joined them when they had heard that Jorgeh was involved, and was somewhat comforted that they both seemed unsure of what the doctor was getting up to.
Thankfully Court eventually spoke up. “What’s causing it?”
“From what I can tell, it’s the part of his brain that is purely El-Aurian.” Slyvexs said as she activated a holographic projection of Alfie’s brain with the particular segment highlighted. “Even though the El-Aurians have been within the Federation for over a century now, there’s still much about their race and their abilities we do not entirely know about them.”
“Karyn once mentioned to me that she had a sixth sense to do with time.” McCallister mentioned. “Some El-Aurians, she said, could sometimes notice a change in the timeline or if they felt something was ‘off’.”
Nodding in agreement, Duncan recounted something their former chief science officer had told him. “Yeah, the first day we meant she told me she could sense that when I was younger I had gone through a temporal anomaly. I had always thought she had read my file but she was able to tell me she had a feeling that I was the wrong age.”
“How could she know that? I thought you said your age was altered by the Department of Temporal Investigations to be more realistic?” Court questioned his partner.
“It is, but Karyn was able to work it out without knowing the full details.” Duncan assured him. He looked back at McCallister, “Without breaking the temporal prime directive and before our investigators arrive, is there anything we should know about what Alfie got up to during that paradox?”
Considering the question for a moment, McCallister rubbed his forehead. “I hate having to second guess myself when it comes to temporal mechanics, but all I can say was he was heavily involved in the situation, but a future version of him.”
“Then could it be that somehow Alfie is experiencing a version of a flashback but more like a flashforward?” Duncan suggested.
Slyvexs gestured with her hands to show she couldn’t be certain. “It’s a possibility but it could be a factor and along with him dealing with his mother’s loss, it could be a lot.”
“What do you recommend then doc?” Court asked.
“Plenty of rest, keeping his appetite up and making sure he talks about his mother and whatever he remembers and is holding back.” Slyvexs advised.
McCallister rolled his eyes, “I’ve got no issues with those first two ideas but the last one I am finding difficult to get across to him, Henri or Theo about how important it is to talk. Louwanna has offered, Samris has offered but none of them want to open up.”
“Let me try, sir.” Duncan offered. “Alfie seems to have struck up a good relationship with Jorgeh in the last couple of days. Perhaps if we can expand on that a bit, we may be able to encourage Alfie to share.”
“Normally Alfie is one of the first ones to share his thoughts and feelings.” McCallister commented.
“That’s true, but the kid has gone through a lot lately. Maybe this is the toll of the pressure he has experienced. All of it has been building and he has blown which resulted in him having this anxiety attack.” Court proposed, looking at McCallister and trying to remain supportive. “Maybe, sir, giving Max’s idea isn’t a bad one to try?”
McCallister looked to one side for a moment.
Slyvexs spoke up. “Sir, I know we’re in the company of good friends here and so what I say I mean it with the deepest of respect but as a family you’ve suffered a heavy loss. You need us all to help you out. Perhaps giving Alfie the freedom to deal with this with the help and counsel of Max and Tobias wouldn’t be a bad idea. It won’t harm him to feel like he can talk freely to them and having Jorgeh around who is of a similar age and can relate may only add to that.”
“I know and I do appreciate it, but I’m his father and I’m supposed to be the one who he turns to when things are going wrong.” McCallister stated. “I feel like I’m letting him down.”
“Things are going wrong, have gone wrong, for you all but you’re not letting him down but making sure he gets the help he needs. It gives you the room to take a moment for yourself as well as be there for Alfie plus Henri and Theo.”
Scratching his forehead, he just looked around at the three of them and then nodded. “Thank you,” He said sincerely before looking down at his hands clasped together. “These last few days have been hard and I appreciate your support, a lot.”
“Anytime, sir.” Court said with a friendly smile.
“It’s not an issue, sir.” Slyvexs added.
“We’re all here for you and the boys.” Duncan finished with.
Holding back tears, McCallister just nodded again showing he was grateful as he scratched his beard, knowing he needed to get back to being a dad first and a starship captain second at this point in time.