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Rated: E · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2273508
A crew brings a dead alien--or it is?--into the ship's sickbay.
The three crewmen struggled to carry the body through the narrow corridor. Stu had the smaller front end; Johnny was farther back, at the most massive part, and Megan had the lower appendages, an arm wrapped around each one. The tail ends of these appendages dragged the deck as they struggled to get it to the ship's medical clinic.

“Damn, this thing is heavy,” Johnny said. “And I've got the slime of it all over me now.”

“There's something up here that stinks really bad,” Stu said.

They were making progress, clunking down the corridor, and Dr. Boris heard the commotion. He stepped out of the clinic doorway. “What’s this?” he said in precisely pronounced, if accented, English.

“One of the bodies,” Stu replied. “I don’t like this place.

Dr. Boris stepped forward and reached to grab hold of the front end of it, but Stu interrupted him. “No, I got this end, help Johnny.”

Dr. Boris moved into place, grabbed the creature's limb. “You get the other side, John,” he said.

“Thanks, Doc,” Johnny replied.

“Get it inside and let us try to put it up on the table,” the doctor said. “Is this thing still alive?”

“It was moving around out there,” Stu said. “That's why we brought it in here.” They were inside the clinic now, and in another moment, they were, with difficulty, lifting it up onto the examining table. Stu got the front end on the table, and then Dr. Boris and Johnny pushed it forward so that the weight of the torso moved onto the table, which groaned under the load.

The body lay still on the table, and they all looked at it for a moment. “I don't think it's alive,” Megan said, wiping her brow with her sleeve.

Stu looked dolefully at the body. “I don’t like this place,” he repeated.

Dr. Boris had reached under the table to grasp the strap that was fastened there. “Get the other end, John,” he said. “Let's get this thing tied down, in case it wakes up.” Johnny reached under and brought the buckle end of a substantial-looking restraint up and over, and Dr. Boris connected the two ends and cinched them tight. He moved down. “There's one more strap there,” he said, and Johnny followed him down.

“What about the legs,” Stu asked.

“There's nothing to strap them down to,” Dr. Boris replied. “This table was made for humans.”

"Well, that's pretty stupid," Johnny said. “We're on Mimas, for God's sake.”

“There's no life on Mimas, Johnny,” Megan said, and then she laughed nervously. “What do you think this thing is, Doc?”

The doctor had finished cinching down the other strap, and he backed away from the table. “I don't know,” he said. “But I want all three of you to decontaminate. Now.”

They all looked at each other for a moment, and then suddenly they were all conscious of the slime that was smeared over them. Megan had it on her sleeves, and the thought of what threat the slime might represent suddenly dawned on her too. “It's on you too, Doc,” she said, looking up.

Dr. Boris frowned and stepped over to the comm panel on the trauma room wall. He hit it with his elbow—after looking to see if there was any slime there. “Con, clinic. We've got a decontamination emergency here, I need security in suits, and I need to seal Trauma Room Two, acknowledge.”

A beat, and then the smooth, calm voice of Colonel Malley came on. “Emergency acknowledged, security in suits on the way. Atmosphere is sealed. Can you state the nature of the emergency, doctor?” Malley could be a pain in the ass, but when it came to responding to emergencies, she didn't mess around.

“We've got an alien in Trauma Two. Dead, I think, but we've got slime all over us.”

“Who's involved?”

Dr. Boris heard the security detail approaching, and then they appeared in the window of the doorway which had swung closed when Malley pressed the panic button. “Four crew. Bretburg, Kelley, Adson, and me,” he said. The security team were passing the portable vacuum closure around the outside of the door and would soon be through it to deal with the problem.

“Roger that, Doctor. Comply with procedures and report as able,” Mally said.

As the team worked outside and the other three looked at each other dumbfoundedly, Dr. Boris started removing his clothes. “Well, come on, strip down,” he ordered, and the others suddenly came to life. Of course they would have to decontaminate in place, and the station was too small to permit modesty.

Megan seemed to get it first; she kicked off her shoes and started removing her pants. She was out of them by the time Johnny and Stu reacted, but they did the same. Dr. Boris removed his shirt—the last item of his clothing remaining—and turned to flip open a drawer. He removed a large plastic bag, stuffed his clothes into it, and then held it out for the others to do the same. They did so, and all four of them stood there looking at each other. The security team was in now, and they began opening bags with decon wipes and paper garments to wear when the decon was complete. Dr. Boris gave the bag to one of the decon team members and took the wipes he held out in return. “Each of you wipe good with these, and then—”

Johnny cut him off. “Oh, crap.” He pointed, and the others turned to look.

The leg of the creature was twitching.
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