DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2002 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.



CATSPAW: THE WILLING SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF

Cheree Cargill



Stardate: 3019.1, First Officer Spock recording.

One saved, one lost. It has only been five days since we left Christopher Pike on Talos IV and returned to our patrol. Now, as if to balance the ledger of the gods, for his rescue we have sacrificed another.

I look down at the body of William Henry Jackson, crewman second class, just come aboard two weeks ago at Starbase 11. Twenty-three years old, only son, named for his grandfather. He liked racing speeders and scuba diving, pepperoni pizza and playing dabo.

How do I know all this? It was in his personnel charts, set down by Starfleet psychologists to aid in assuring his best mental health while on deep space voyages. There were just four people on board the Enterprise with access to those files ... the Chief Medical Officer, the Personnel Officer, the Captain and the First Officer. Now there is something else to be added before his chart is closed. "Died on Pyrus VII in the line of duty. May he rest in peace."

The Captain had already made that entry before he and I had the duty of going through Jackson's cabin and packing his things for shipment back to his family. There were a number of religious objects ... rosaries and crucifixes, books and music tapes of an ecumenical nature. Captain Kirk had already sent the letter, telling of Jackson's death and expressing his condolences to the family. The packet of effects will follow the body home. An honor guard of Jackson's peers will go with him and represent the ship's company at his funeral.

And yet, as I gaze down at the body of this young man, cold and still on the morgue table, I ponder exactly what killed him. Dr. McCoy had to put something down on the death certificate. "Died of voodoo" would hardly be appropriate. Perhaps "died of fright" would be better. Or "died of superstition".

I hear a footstep and turn as Dr. McCoy joins me. He is obviously off-duty because he holds a whiskey glass in one hand, showing it half-full of a dark amber liquid. Its odor tells me that it is alcoholic, mostly probably bourbon, a favorite of his.

He steps up beside me and gazes down at Jackson. "Pity," he says softly. "A boy that young..."

"There is no good age to die," I answer. "However, I too regret that his life ended in such a meaningless fashion."

McCoy sips his whiskey. "Scotty said Jackson stood up to them. Fought what they were doing to him."

"But it did him little good," I reply, still looking down at the motionless form. "They had already beaten him before the battle began."

"How's that?" McCoy inquires and there is a skeptical, challenging tone in his voice.

I look up at him calmly. "Because he believed they could kill him. So he died."

The doctor snorts and takes another sip. "Are you saying that he believed in voodoo magic? I hardly think he was that gullible."

I cock an eyebrow at him. "Tell me, Doctor. Do you believe in the Virgin Birth?"

He casts a surprised eye at me. "Of course, Mr. Spock."

"And the Resurrection?"

"Yes."

"And miracles?"

"Where is this leading, Spock?" he demands. "You're not going to start some tirade against Christianity, are you?"

"Not at all," I answer. "I merely ask you, as a scientist and a medical professional, to explain if you truly believe that a young virgin was impregnated by a non-corporeal deity and if you believe that a man three days dead came back to life."

"Well, in pure scientific terms..."

"Then you do not believe it?" I interrupt.

"Now, I didn't say that--"

"Ah, so you do believe it."

McCoy is glaring at me now. "Damn it, Spock! You'll twist it no matter what I say!"

"Forgive me, Doctor," I answer. "I do this to make a point. A follower of Christianity by definition must believe in the divinity of Christ, which includes His birth, resurrection and miracles performed. To a rational scientist, all can be explained, but the explanation negates a divine event. Either He is the Son of God or He isn't."

"Yes?" McCoy responds, still glowering at me.

"If you believe in that divinity, then miraculous happenings are accepted at face value," I go on. "To a certain way of thinking, you believe in the magic of it." I nod down at the young man on the table. "Jackson was a devout Christian. One might even say a fanatical Christian. He believed in the existence of the supernatural, including the powers of darkness and their ability to slay him."

"So he simply died when Sylvia performed sympathetic magic and made him believe that she had killed him?"

"Precisely. You, Mr. Scott and Mr. Sulu were all susceptible because, deep down, you believed they had the ability to control your minds."

McCoy looks away, his expression pensive. "Now, isn't that a thought?" he says, almost to himself. "If he'd just been unwilling to believe in them, they couldn't have hurt him."

"Those are my conclusions as well," I answer. "Jackson's willing suspension of disbelief ... his willing acceptance of the images Sylvia and Korob presented were what killed him. Had he been Vulcan, he would be alive at this moment."

The doctor draws himself up. "So, it gets back to that again. Vulcan superiority over us poor, pathetic humans."

"No Vulcan would have been taken in by the primitive nonsense being spouted by the aliens. Especially since it was drawn from the subconscious of the human brains involved." He looks ready to argue, but I have other things to do. "I must return to duty, Dr. McCoy. We can continue this discussion at a later date."

"Mr. Spock, have you ever noticed your tendency to walk away from an argument you can't win?" the doctor asks, turning to watch me stride away from him.

I turn back with a cynical expression and stare at him. "Just as you cannot win this particular one, Dr. McCoy. You are a believer and I am not. Thus, stalemate. End of game."

I flick an eyebrow at him and continue on my way. But he strives for the last word. "Aren't you even willing to admit that I could be right?"

I glance back once more. "No. That would entail the acceptance of your religious convictions. Vulcans have no such beliefs. They are illogical and therefore we do not give them credence." The door panel slides open and I step through it.

Behind me, he shoots one last comment at me. "Give my regards to your Ancestors when you meditate tonight, Spock," he says with a sardonic smile. "And light a candle for Jackson while you're at it."

THE END