I was in the middle of another escape attempt when Rodney busted through the door, his face red with exhaustion. He saw me out of bed, scowled, and started helping me back.
“Oh no. Remember what happened last time you escaped the infirmary, Colonel,” he mumbled. His words were disjointed between heavy breaths. Once I was back in my prison, he started gesticulating wildly while speaking so fast even I couldn't understand him. And trust me, I was well versed in Rodney quick-speak.
“It was amazing...sun going down...a big splash...a beautiful indigo tail. She was stunning!”
“Mermaids? Are you trying to tell me you saw mermaids?”
Rodney tried to answer but his frenzied speech made him even more breathless. Instead, he gestured with a few points, arm waves, clicks of the fingers, and finally a nod.
“Got it in one. No wonder you passed the MENSA test.”
Mind you, this was only a few days after the whole tranqbot incident and about 24 hours since Rodney had been released from the infirmary. While I didn't necessarily believe that mermaids couldn't exist in this world's ocean, the timing was too coincidental. So either Rodney was still insane or he was trying to entertain me again.
Figuring it was the latter, I decided to play along. “Really? So what color hair did she have?”
“Auburn. And her eyes...Oh, her eyes, they were golden, like the sun.”
A response like that from Rodney was definitely different. So perhaps insane was the correct choice, after all.
“Really? So'd you ask her on a date?”
“The mermaid. It's not every day you meet a beautiful girl from the ocean, and let's face it, it's not everyday that a girl is willing to pay attention to you.”
“Oh har har, Colonel. No, I didn't ask her on a date. Truth is that she was only there for a moment before swimming away.” He sighed and I rolled my eyes. So Rodney was in love with one of his delusions?
“Look, you don't have to keep entertaining me today. You've done a good job so far, but you should get some rest.” Rodney's shoulders were slouched, his clothes wrinkled. His eyes were glazed over and the more the flush disappeared from his cheeks, the more his pallor showed. I could see how weary he really was. “Did you even go to sleep last night?”
“What? Me? No, I wanted to catch up on some of my experiments since Dr. Prison Guard insisted on keeping me here so long. Are you even listening to me? There are mermaids in our ocean!”
“Yes, I heard that part. All night running experiments because you were here for two days? I've been here for two weeks so forgive me if I don't pity you. Now, go get some sleep.”
“Pity me? You think I want you to pity me?”
“Sleep, Rodney. Now.”
He looked at the bed and then at me. “You do realize that you can't give me orders, right? Especially when you're off duty and we're not off world.”
“No, no, it's okay. I have better things to do with my time then tell you about one of the greatest discoveries I've made since we got here.”
“It's a mermaid, Rodney, not a ZPM.”
“Yes! A beautiful woman that lives in the very sea our city dwells on. You of all people should recognize the sheer awesomeness of this discovery. Don't you see? There could be hundreds of them. Maybe more. For all we know, they could actually be related to the Ancients!”
“First of all, that's a stretch even for you. Second, did you just say awesomeness?”
Yup, crazy, whether it be from the tiredness or the sickness, it was full blown, absolute crazy. Ignoring the pain in my leg, I pushed myself up on the bed and examined him. He was serious. I could see that much, and well, I was starting to wonder if I should get Doc. It was one thing when Rodney was crazy and protecting a turtle. It was a completely different thing when Rodney looked about ready to pass out from his madness-induced exhaustion.
“Mermaids with the Ancient gene, Colonel. You have to admit, it's at least a possibility. Or need I remind you of the monster turtles this island carries?” He held his chin aloft in that defiant way of his, even as a distant gleam in his eyes betrayed that he missed George.
“Maybe you should check in with Carson.”
“I'm not crazy, Colonel.”
I raised an eyebrow, knowing it would be enough of a response.
“Fine. I'll just have to find a way to prove it to you.” Rodney made for the door in a huff.
“Just make sure you get some sleep first,” I called to him. When he didn't respond, I had to admit I was growing worried. I pressed the call button and asked Nurse Cindy to send for Teyla and Ronon. If anyone could get the physicist to sleep, it would be them.
I couldn't believe the Colonel. So I went crazy and protected a turtle from Carson's clutches. That didn't mean the mermaids didn't exist. I was completely sane, and certified as such by both Dr. Beckett and the ever-attractive Dr. Heightmeyer. And I did not need sleep. How easily he forgot that I was the master of 48-hour workdays with no break—workdays that have saved his life on more than a few occasions.
I stopped by my quarters and grabbed the digital camera before hurrying to my lab. There were a few experiments I needed to complete before I could head to the docks. As I typed away on my laptop, my thoughts kept drifting to auburn hair and golden eyes. She really was beautiful, more so than any woman I had ever seen. Had she been calling to me? What was her name?
“Rodney! What are you doing?” Zelenka's harried voice broke into my reverie.
“I'm testing the Ancient device we found on P4X-336. In case you didn't know, that's what I do.”
“No, you are running nonsense on your laptop. We will have to redo all of these calculations.”
Radek looked more concerned than angry. I looked toward the screen only to find that I had decided five equaled six and the sine of pi over six was one. So maybe Sheppard had been right, maybe I was exhausted.
“You are not okay, Rodney. You should go check in with Carson, or at least get some sleep.”
“Fine.” I brushed away from my lab, secretly glad to have been kicked out. So Zelenka had just berated me in my own lab? I could make him pay for that later. Right now, I had mermaids to find.
I was almost to the docks when I noticed Ronon and Teyla coming from the opposite direction. Call me paranoid, but I had the distinct impression that a certain lieutenant colonel had just turned me in. Not anxious for another “go to sleep” conversation, I turned on my heels and headed for the lift.
I could have pretended not to hear her, but I didn't. I turned to face the both of them, putting on my best smile. “Ah, Teyla. Ronon. What can I do for you?”
“Sleep,” Ronon answered without preamble.
Two hands fell onto my shoulders and the next thing I knew, I was being guided to the lift with no way to escape.
“I'm fine,” I insisted. “Sheppard is just confused. You understand that, right?”
A grunt from Ronon said otherwise.
“We only wish you well. Be glad we are not taking you to the infirmary.”
I went into my quarters like a good boy and even waited there for a good thirty minutes, just in case they thought it necessary to stick around. Unfortunately, it was too much of a bother to make the sliding doors only poke open enough to peer through, so I had to let it open all the way to see if anyone was still around. Grabbing the camera, I made my way back to the docks, this time without incident.
It was raining outside, but I was determined. Setting up one of our field tents right there on the dock, I sat on the ground and waited.
It took some doing to keep my tent from escaping with the wind. The gray ocean was filled with wildlife, but none was what I wanted. After a good few hours of work, I had taken pictures of whales emerging for air, of giant squid-fish bouncing off the water's edge, and even a fish the size of Ronon flipping into the air, but alas my mermaid evaded me.
“Rodney,” a Scottish voice called from behind me. Before I could answer, he'd entered my tent and taken his own seat beside me.
“Why, no, Carson, I don't mind company. Why don't you make yourself comfortable?” My sarcasm didn't go over as well as I had hoped. Carson sent me a penetrating stare and a worried glance.
“Ronon and Teyla seem to think that they sent you to bed.”
“Yes, well, I'm not twelve, I can make my own bed times.”
Carson didn't look so great himself. Sheppard was often the worst of patients, in that he was always, and I mean always, trying to escape. This meant that Carson had to work double time, because Sheppard had a knack for getting past his staff--as evidenced by our little puddlejumper adventure. Carson sighed, and the next thing I knew, I was in a staring competition with him. Unfortunately, I always sucked at those, and sure enough, my gaze dropped first.
“Rodney, you are going to bed. I suspect there's just a trace amount of the virus in your system still, so I'm willing to let you sleep it off in your own quarters. However, if you insist, I could call for security to escort you to the infirmary and then instill the use of restraints to make sure you take bloody care of yourself. Now, then, which will it be?”
He was serious, or at least I think that's what his face said. I suppose all those days of putting up with Sheppard had left him at his wit’s end and that was why I was getting the brunt of his anger. Or maybe he was still mad about me carting Sheppard off to the Mainland. He had mentioned something about punishments, if I recalled correctly.
I spent the next eight hours, in my quarters, looking over the Ancient database for any mention of mermaids. Despite all of my hacking, I found nothing.
I then drifted to sleep and dreamed of her. She had an enchanting giggle and kept gesturing for me to follow her in the ocean.
I woke up on the dock, though I didn't remember walking there. The sun was out again, the storm having finally died down. I looked to the sea and there she was, masked by the sun's glow. Frozen in place, I stared with my mouth agape. She smiled softly then giggled.
She held a single finger to her lips and then giggled again. Waving me forward, she dove back into the ocean. I considered following her, but there was a part of me that was still afraid of the ocean here. It probably had something to do with the way the water had tried to drown me some time before.
The mermaid came back to the surface, her wide cheeks pouting as though she was no more than eight, but I could see she was at least twenty-five or older. Her golden eyes locked on to mine and I found myself entranced. It was as though all the world had disappeared but for this mermaid. I walked forward. Water seeped through my shoes and trousers. The mermaid giggled again, waving me forward once more before diving back into the calm ocean.
There were colors everywhere. Hues of every type I had ever imagined, and some that broke the light spectrum as I knew it. They surrounded me and, though I was in the ocean, I didn’t feel the need to breathe. Through the expanse, I could see my mermaid flip her fins and dance, occasionally stopping to giggle.
I kicked with my feet, desperate to keep up. I was only vaguely aware of a bubble that surrounded me, pulling me forward faster than I could swim. It was—as unscientific as this sounds—as though I had slipped into a deep trance.
My mermaid friend was joined by others, equally as beautiful as her. Their hair floated gracefully in the water that surrounded them, and each wore a small bikini top to cover their breasts. Wondering how I would ever explain this adventure to Carson and Sheppard, I watched as the mermaids disappeared into a seemingly empty part of the depths. My bubble brought me to a cabin covered in Ancient technology. “Now we're talking,” I said, surprised that my voice worked within the water. Bubbles brushed past, clouding my vision for a few seconds.
I must have passed under a cloak. It was the only reason why I couldn't have seen this place before. Perhaps that was why we had never found it with our sensors, though truth be told, most of this ocean was still a mystery to us.
Speaking of which, the pressure ought to have killed me by then. Huh.
My mermaid friend tapped me on the shoulder, and giggled once more. She pointed to one of the Ancient computers where a screen was activated. “You must help him,” they whispered in rounds. “Help him, please. Help him.”
I gazed at the screen, trying to make out its image and gasped once I had done so.
“Help him, please.”
“Zelenka to the Infirmary. Medical emergency on the docks.” I shouted the words, although they would have heard me well if I had whispered.
I was checking on a faulty conduit, when I found Rodney on the docks. He was soaking wet and barely breathing. His hair was covered in seaweed, and a distinct fish smell emanated from all around him.
His skin was white and cold to the touch, wrinkled from extended exposure to the water.
Beckett arrived with a team and whisked my boss, and friend, away to the infirmary. I thought back to Rodney making stupid calculation errors and wondered if I should have sent him to the infirmary then.
Sheppard awoke from all the commotion and I saw the worry in his eyes as he tried to determine who the staff was fussing over. Unable to help anymore, I came to Sheppard's bedside just as Elizabeth raced through the door.
“What's going on?” Sheppard tried to move upright, wrinkles on his brow testifying to the pain it caused him.
“I am unsure. Rodney was unconscious when I found him.”
“Rodney? Where was he?” The Colonel frowned, his face paler than it had been just a few seconds before.
“On the docks.”
Sheppard cursed softly.
“John?” Elizabeth passed him a knowing glare from which the Colonel shrunk away. “I take it you know something about this?”
“He was probably searching for the mermaids.”
“Mermaids? There are mermaids here?” I had always wondered since it seemed only fitting that a city on the sea would be accompanied by the mythical creatures.
“Rodney seemed to think so, but he wasn't exactly all there, if you know what I mean.”
Teyla and Ronon showed up mid-explanation and all of us waited together for an hour while the medics did everything they could for Rodney. Carson assured us he was going to be fine, but he was running some extra tests to make sure that he hadn't missed anything. He had a guard posted at the door, much to the Colonel's dismay.
“Given Rodney's current state of mind, I think it's best we make sure he stays here. I'm sure you can understand that.”
Sheppard nodded, annoyance masking his concern.
“I should return to the labs,” I said, as everyone else made their own exits. I saw Sheppard's eyes drifting closed and had no wish to disturb him further. It appeared Rodney was going to be okay, so there was no longer a reason for me to hang around.
I was almost to the door when I heard my name whispered. Rodney was awake. I raced to his bed. “You are crazy man, you know that,” I told him while straightening his blanket to make sure he was comfortable.
I moved to alert Dr. Beckett that his patient was back in the land of the living, but Rodney grabbed my arm and stopped me. “Wait.”
I could see that Sheppard had regained some energy and was now watching us intently from across the room. There was a loopy smile on his face since Carson had increased his pain meds before exiting.
I pulled up a chair next to Rodney. “Yes, what crazy stories have you today? Did the mermaids try to drown you? Or did you just feel the need to drown yourself?” I was angry and I didn't realize it until the words had come out. Rodney was an arrogant man, but he was also my friend. If I had not found him when I did...
“Sheppard say that? See if I ever tell him anything like that again.” He smiled lightly, though I could see it took a lot for him to speak. Rodney was coherent enough, but he looked even wearier than he had in the lab. Falling into the ocean tended to have that effect on someone.
“I say again: You are crazy man.”
“Better crazy than stupid.”
“There are days I am unsure there is a difference. Now then, what is it that you wanted?”
Rodney's face fell, his expression growing serious. “I need you take me to the Mainland. Now.”
“Rodney, I am not so sure...”
“I'm serious, Radek. We have to get to...” He paused, as though catching himself from saying something even crazier than he had already.
“You need rest, Rodney. These adventures are poison to your mind.”
Rodney's expression became determined, like it did when he had no intention of backing down. “Radek, I need you to trust me. I’m not crazy. I’m not insane. I didn’t try to drown myself. What I do need is your help, and I need it now.”
It was hard to argue with him when he was like this, and though part of me was afraid of whatever scheme Rodney had concocted, another part of me was curious and anxious for an adventure.
“This is not an easy thing you are asking. Carson has posted a guard to make sure you don't escape.”
“Then knock him out. He's only one guard.”
“You speak nonsense again. Rest, Rodney.”
“Please, Radek, I need you to do this.”
Rodney did not plead. It was one of those rules in life as firm as the rules of physics. But he was pleading now. I looked into his eyes and saw not insanity, but determination.
I turned back toward Sheppard, who was watching us with a his drugged, curious eye. If I were to say no, Rodney would enlist Sheppard in his scheme. Of this much I was certain. Those two were even stupider when plotting together. In many ways, I had no choice but to help, if only to keep the Colonel from hurting himself further.
“Very well, Rodney. But you will owe me big time for this.”
“Yes, yes, I'll pay you back someday. Now, can we just get on with this?” A new vigor came into Rodney's expression and I found myself pondering the best way to take out a Marine.
I went with sedatives, since they were the simplest and least messy possibility. Sheppard, who was loopier than a fractal, was smart enough to know we were up to something. Perhaps, had he been in his right mind, he would have tried to stop us. Instead, I convinced him to lure the guard to his bed under the guise of small talk.
“Sir, I'm standing watch,” the soldier mumbled, afraid of seeming disrespectful but also afraid to abandon his post.
“Rodriguez, the guy’s asleep and unarmed. You can watch him just as well from here.”
After some prodding, Rodriguez relented. I approached as if to join the conversation, hiding the needle in my sleeve. Sheppard told a bad joke to which Rodriguez laughed. It was then that I attacked. A second later and he was out cold. I was, admittedly, proud of myself. It wasn't everyday that a scientist took out a Marine.
Shaking my head, and wondering about my own sanity, I helped Rodney out of bed. “I don't suppose you have a plan for how we're going to get to the Mainland without anyone noticing?”
Rodney trembled on his legs as though he had forgotten how to use them. At least his skin was no longer frosty cold. He grabbed onto my arm for support. “No, but we are geniuses. If we can't outsmart Elizabeth, we don't deserve to be here.”
It was not Elizabeth so much as the Marines that worried me, but I said little more.
“Have fun!” Sheppard called to us. He grinned sheepishly, a puppy dog look on his face.
“No, Colonel. We can't take you, too. However, I do thank you for your help.”
So it was that Rodney and I escaped the infirmary. I was convinced that I was going to get fired for this, or at least incur Carson's wrath. I had heard terrible things about the latter and I knew there was no way this outting could end well.
Stealing a jumper from Atlantis is not as easy as it used to be. Rodney and I had worked hard after the Ford incident to ensure that nothing like that could happen again. It did not help that Elizabeth was wary since Rodney had managed to steal one under her nose just a few days previous. In the end, Rodney used his charm on Miko, who called in a favor from Peterson, who convinced Kavanagh to call in a favor from the tech guy—Bob was it?—who ran the console back in ops. In short, it was one large conspiracy that took place in a matter of minutes that allowed us to lift off the ground without so much as having to explain ourselves. Elizabeth was furious when she raced to the rail to see the jumper taking off, and I feared that coming back to Atlantis could only result in a painful demise.
My only question was how the Marines managed to not catch up with us ahead of time, but I have learned to not dwell on the small miracles in life. Much better to just accept them and not think too much. I suspected Rodney would have my head if he knew I thought this way.
Rodney slouched in the pilot's chair, his pallor more than a little worrying. He had stolen some medical supplies, as if the jumper had not had enough, but still refused to talk about where we were going. He seemed intent on watching the ocean, as though expecting a mermaid to jump out and guide us the rest of the way.
Mermaids, I scoffed. Before it was monster turtles. Even if I had clearance to speak of my life to other people back on earth, I do not think they would believe me. I am still unconvinced that I am not in a coma.
We arrived on the mainland without further incident. “We do not know if Elizabeth is sending guards after us or not, so I suggest you work fast at whatever it is you are up to.”
Rodney grunted, securing his pack to his back. “Don't worry, this shouldn't take long. Now then, I think we should go this way...”
“Yes, I think. You can't expect me to know everything all the time.”
“It is only you that expects us to believe such things of you, Rodney.”
I stayed behind him, if only to catch him if he fell. He was looking better than the unconscious blob I had found some hours before, but he still seemed unwell.
“You should have seen her, Radek.”
We trudged through the forest, following the coastline. The wind was calm and the sun's rays burned against his neck, but it was still cool amongst the shaded trees.
“What do you mean who? The mermaid, of course.”
“So it is true, then! You tried to kill yourself searching for mystical creatures?”
“Don't be an idiot, Radek. You're smarter than that. I just followed the mermaids into the ocean where they showed me an amazing outpost.”
“I don't suppose they gave you gills, because you do realize such an adventure would make you drown.”
“Have faith, Radek.”
“Yes, the fact you say such things now tells me you are not thinking normally. Perhaps we should head back.”
Rodney swung around and then back, examining the forest as though he were a predator looking for prey. While I had seen Ronon in such a mood, it was strange to see Rodney like this.
“We're not going back. Not when he needs our help.”
“Well not the mermaid, of course.”
“Obviously. So he who?”
“George. Really, don't you pay attention at all?”
My head was beginning to hurt. Rodney was difficult to follow at times; this was true, but normally I could keep up with him. Today, however, he was a mad genius on the prowl, and I was his unlikely accomplice.
“George from engineering? He's fine. I saw him...”
“No, not that George. George as in Turtle George.”
My feet planted themselves to the ground. I stared forward, disbelieving what I had just heard. “Rodney...”
“Radek...” He turned to face me, and although he did not look crazy, I was still frightened.
“You speak of turtle. As in the giant monster turtle it took three dozen marines to get away from our city?”
“One and the same. I don't know any other turtles. Although I suppose having one here would make sense...”
“That is it. We are heading back right now.”
“No, we're continuing forward.”
I shook my head, wondering if I should pull out the zat I stole just in case Rodney truly was insane. “Rodney, it is a monster with large, sharp claws and teeth. There is no good reason to seek it out.”
“Except that he is sick and needs our help. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not heartless and if I know someone is sick I'm going to try and help.”
I gazed around the forest, hoping that Elizabeth had the foresight to send someone after us. Her fury would be great, yes, but... “How would you know that it is sick? You were on Atlantis and it is here.”
“I have my ways.”
“Let me guess, Rodney. The mermaids told you?”
“Yes, actually. Now that one mystery is solved, would you please help me find George?”
He was as a kid looking for his lost puppy, and there was real, honest concern in his eyes. “You are making no sense, my friend.”
“There!” Rodney's eyes grew wide as he pointed out into the distance, waving his arms into the air. “George!”
Rodney had many years of running from bad things, so he had become much faster than myself. I raced after him as he sprinted toward the clearing, where a giant turtle sat, unmoving.
“George?” Rodney placed his hand on the shell, caressing it as he would his cat. “We're going to get you help, okay? Just hang on.”
He was as much afraid for this turtle as I was afraid for his sanity. But the turtle did indeed look sick based on how it hung its head low and failed to click its claws.
Rodney injected something into his soft neck.
“What is that?”
“The mermaids said it would help until we could bring George to them.”
“Oh, right.” Not much else I could say really.
George seemed to gain some energy after that. It moved up onto its hundred or so legs and started following us back to the jumper at a slow, lethargic pace.
“So how would the mermaids know George was sick?” I didn't buy Rodney's story, but I could not deny George's illness. Perhaps it would help to hear more details.
“I don't know. He's connected to the island or something. I think many of the creatures here are. The mermaids and George have the gene, somehow, and I'm thinking they might be guardians of a sort for this whole planet.”
“They have the gene? Here, give me your life signs detector.”
Rodney handed it over without a question, probably because his thoughts were entirely on the turtle. I took the device and placed it on the turtle. It began to glow. So there was some truth to Rodney's delusion after all.
“You do realize what Elizabeth will do to us when we bring home the monster turtle?”
“Strangely enough, I don't care. If you want, you can say I forced you to help me at gunpoint, but all I want is to get George home and safe.”
He caressed its head as he said this, and the turtle clapped his claws lightly in response. I jumped back, afraid that the monster might decide to clip me, but when it made no other movements, I continued forward again.
The turtle was large enough that it took up most of the space in the jumper. As we flew back from the mainland we noticed another jumper on the sand. Perhaps it was the Marines and doctors coming in search of us. I did not want to think about it too carefully.
When we arrived, Rodney did not bother taking the jumper into the bay, but rather stopped at the dock. Already, Elizabeth was threatening us over the radio and I could hear her call the Marines to our location.
“How exactly are the mermaids going to help him if George doesn't belong in the water? You do realize pushing him in will drown him?” I said this because I was unsure at this point if Rodney would be stupid enough to try this, and part of me was sure that he was. As I had told him, craziness and stupidity are often hard to tell apart.
“He'll be fine,” Rodney assured me.
I could hear the sound of boots stomping behind me and I knew the military had arrived.
“Rodney, Radek.” Elizabeth's cold eyes bore into mine when I spun around.
“I am sure Rodney can explain everything.” Though Rodney had yet to acknowledge her presence. He was busy mumbling something to the turtle.
It was then that Elizabeth's eyes widened in terror and the soldiers raised their P-90s.
“You did not bring that here...”
“It is possible it came on its own,” I tried explaining. She wasn't buying it.
“Rodney, you are to get that turtle out of here now, do I make myself clear?”
Rodney had yet to acknowledge her, so Lorne stepped forward, clasping his hand on the crazy man's shoulder. “Rodney.”
“Yes, yes. Wait just a minute. Can't you see that I'm trying to say goodbye?”
Carson was next to appear on the scene, muttering a quick “Bloody hell” upon seeing the monster turtle.
“Rodney,” Elizabeth's voice was softer now, as though she were dealing with a very young child. She was, in fact, dealing with Rodney, so it was not so far off.
“Just wait for it. Wait for it.”
A splash crashed against the ocean surface. I faced the sea only to find a beautiful woman with flowing auburn hair that danced in the wind as though the strands had never touched water. Her indigo tail flipped into the air. She was every bit as beautiful as Rodney had described.
I was frozen in place as I watched Rodney push the turtle out toward her. It fell into the sea, its head disappearing beneath the surface.
Rodney watched it go, waving sadly. “Get well soon,” he called out to the vast ocean.
Elizabeth's expression was an amalgamation of shock, fear, anger, and I'm not really sure what else. The Marines behind her looked similarly confused.
“You didn't just drown that thing, did you?” Lorne stared down into the waters as though afraid of what he might see.
“What? Of course not! He was sick so I had to send him to the mermaids.”
“Ah, now it all makes sense.” Lorne smiled and nodded. It was the most any of us could do.
“Yes, so you were saying something, Elizabeth?” Rodney held his hands behind his back, his head held high.
She seemed incapable of speech as her face contorted with various expressions. She opened her mouth once or twice, but no sound came out. At last she whispered. “Infirmary. Both of you. Now.”
I felt sorry for dragging Radek into my scheme, but really there was no way to escape without him. Not while everyone thought I was crazy anyway. He held his head low when we entered the infirmary, and John immediately started asking us questions about how things went and if Elizabeth was going to throw us in the brig or not. The simple fact that the idea seemed to appeal to him worried me.
The best part, though, was when Radek confirmed my story on the mermaids.
“Really?” Sheppard shook his head laughing. “Well, if they're any bit as beautiful as you say, you'll have to introduce me.”
Elizabeth uncovered most of our conspirators, and apparently saving George's life wasn't enough for her to just let things go. Maybe it was because everyone was willing to help the crazy guy and that couldn’t be good for our security. Well, you win some; you lose some. I didn't know what punishment she had in mind, but I didn't care much. Maybe I was still sick, because helping George seemed worth whatever she might have in mind. When had I become such a softy?
It was a few days later when I heard the mermaids call to me in my dreams. I returned to the dock, but this time, I took Radek with me. Oh yeah, and we had absconded with Sheppard from the infirmary.
“Any idea what she wants?” Sheppard asked, grinning. “Perhaps she wants you to save a bird or join her colony or maybe she wants you to grow gills.”
“Yes, you mock me now, but just remember, I was right all along when you thought I was crazy. And I just helped you escape the infirmary, again, so don't be so cocky.”
I heard a familiar giggle and looked out to the sea. Sure enough, my mermaid had returned.
Sheppard doned a full boyish grin out and reached his hand out. “Hi, I'm John Sheppard.” The mermaid ignored it. She giggled again and jumped back into the sea.
“Don't even start, McKay,” he ordered, as I grinned back at him.
A new sound called my attention back to the ocean. I saw the claws first and then the deep green shell.
John started humming a tune under his breath that sounded suspiciously like “And the cat came back the very next day.” Radek just groaned, and took some steps back.
George purred softly as he brushed his head against my side. I couldn't help but ask, “Do you think Elizabeth will let me keep him this time?”
The End (For Now)