It was a dark and stormy night (well, not really, in actuality it was a beautiful mid-summer's day), when Dr. Brightman felt compelled to alert General O'Neill. By training prepared to assess and respond to emergencies, she had still optimistically planned on a neutral settling-in period, to give her time to come up to speed and see what the world had been up to while she was freezing her ass off at the bottom of the world. So much for positive thinking.
Happy to be stateside after several years assigned to McMurdo, Brightman had been blithely perusing her "Medical News from Around the World" electronic newspaper, when she stumbled across the last item. "New Fever - Jaakitis?" Quickly scanning the brief blurb, she became alarmed at the oddity and severity of the symptoms, all of which seemed unnatural to her. Monitoring the situation for several days, she was not exactly surprised to find information tricky to come by; obviously, the government had stepped in to control panic, especially given the nature of the disease.
In her medical briefings before arriving at the SGC, she had been warned that if a disease acted unlike any earth disease in her experience, it was probably alien in nature. Well, this darned thing, unusual as it was, sure seemed to qualify.
She had been hoping to avoid taking any action, praying that the now world-wide outbreak would vanish as quickly as it had arisen; but no such luck. Just as new cases seemed to be diminishing, an even larger outbreak occurred about seven days after the first. She wasn't entirely sure she was ready to be tested with her first alien - well, you really can't count Teal'c - experience. Dialing the general's cell number and not looking forward to his annoyed 'O'Neill' as he answered the phone in Minnesota (wondering as she pressed the buttons if it was too much to hope for satellite failure), she mentally reviewed her report.
'Sir, I regret to inform you of a possible alien outbreak that has suddenly appeared, and apparently escaped containment.' Hmmm, okay, that's good. Clear, concise, leaves plenty of room at the end for an outraged 'What? How?'
Then, move right ahead with: 'The illness strikes without warning, and is presently running rampant among the population, with the caveat that females are more susceptible than males.' Yeah, that's good, then he can give me a sarcastic remark like 'Well, isn't that just *peachy*, it only targets 50% of the population!'
I guess I should continue telling him what little we know, so: 'Very young children appear to be naturally immune, with the youngest known victim aged 7. However, the oldest victim and first and only fatality to date, a Mrs. Nomma Won Jaakfann, was 101. An autopsy is already in process, although hampered somewhat by a unique side effect, so we should have results sometime later today.'
'Sir, we are still determining the symptomatology of this "fever" for lack of a better description. Relatives in attendance during Ms. Jaakfann's final moments have been extremely helpful and forthcoming in this endeavor. She was passing in and out of consciousness throughout the day, with rapid and unexplained spikes in temperature, erratic breathing and elevated blood pressure. The unique side effect appears to be a rigor of the muscles in her hands and arms. She was apparently online when the disease first attacked, and caregivers were unable to remove her laptop from her grip, even after death had occurred.'
She sighed. Even though she's known him but a short time, she's positive he'll make some marginally appropriate remark about the poor woman's "cold, dead, fingers". Mentally giving herself a shake, she prepared to continue.
'In addition, a number of puzzling scrapes and bruises were found all over Jaakfann's body. Her sister, Mrs. Adorine Jaakfann, found Nomma Won lying on her bed, fully dressed, with pillows supporting both sides of her body as well as her head, and the ubiquitous laptop firmly in hand. The local authorities were contacted, but their interviews during the woman's barely conscious intervals negated any foul play, which leaves the bruising a potential symptom or side effect of this disease.'
There, she thought. An excellent report - even the legendary Janet Fraiser could not have been more accurate or concise (and while she was grateful that no one at Cheyenne Mountain ever gracelessly compared them, she was well aware that she would probably never be able to fill the tiny shoes which left behind such a huge footprint).
Listening to the ring of the phone (oooh, maybe he won't answer . . .), she focused her attention on anticipating the next part of the conversation. Hah! Interrogation, more like it! He'll probably have some questions. But what? Ohhh!
'Dr. Brightman, just what has led you to connect the death of this poor woman . . . Jaakfann, you said? . . . to an alien disease, and why in the world do you think the general population is in danger?' Oh, yes, that's a good one. He'll certainly ask that.
'Well, sir, I'm seeing reports from emergency rooms all across the country, actually all over the world, of patients treated for these symptoms. While the specific symptoms and degree of severity do vary, they all have one thing in common: an involuntary attachment to their computer. It is this symptom that made me suspect an alien virus. It occurred to me that one could have been transmitted through the gate, just as the Entity did a few years ago. If so, the alien virus could have entered the base computer systems and migrated to the outside via the internet, then infecting the civilian population.' Now what else . . . oh, geeze . . . of course he'll want to know . . .
'Doctor, is the base secure? I want to speak with Colonel Carter'.
'Yes, General O'Neill, I am happy to report that there are no occurrences of the disease here at the SGC. No, I'm sorry, sir, I have no theory about that. Yes, sir, I'll develop one immediately. No, sir, it will be my top priority. Yes sir, of course sir, I'll certainly be looking into a solution. No, sir, I haven't paged her yet. Yes, sir, I'll personally go get her. Right now, sir. Yes, sir.'
Aaaarrrrggghhh. Well. *That* went well . . . not. If her conversation with the general ends up like that, she'll be back in the isolation of Antarctica before she could change her shoes.
Suddenly just wanting to get it all over with, she realized the phone was still ringing (what the . . . it must be at least the 8th or 9th ring, where *is* he?) as well as the loudspeaker paging her to the infirmary. Quickly hanging up the receiver, she mumbled a quick "thank you, God" as she ran out of her office to the triage bay.
It was Colonel Carter . . . flushed, bruised, breathless . . . and with a laptop gripped firmly in her hands.
Oh my God! It's here! Jaakitis!
"Okay, Colonel Carter, please sit down on the bed, we're going to help you recline and make you as comfortable as possible. Smithers, I need extra pillows placed on either side of her body as well as underneath her forearms to support that laptop, and raise the head of the bed to a 45 degree angle. I want an IV started with Methocarbamol to try and relax that grip. Oh, and Ibuprofen for fever reduction, and standby with the O2. Come on people, let's move."
Catching her breath, she was finally able to pay attention to what Colonel Carter was mumbling. And in thinking about the episode later, she didn't know whether she should be grateful for the interruption Carter's entrance provided or request permanent assignment to McMurdo because someone so stupid obviously didn't belong at the SGC as CMO.
"Dr. Brightman, I'm *so* sorry. I . . ." the colonel said, puffing out her words.
"Hush, it's not your fault. I should have . . ."
". . . swore I would not succumb this year. But . . . " Colonel Carter's voice faded into the background.
Wait! *This* year? How can this be?
". . . the spoilers were so tempting, and I thought one little look couldn't hurt. And . . ."
"Colonel Carter!" Brightman interrupted. "*What* are you talking about?"
"Why, the screen caps from Wormhole Extreme's fourth season, of course! I've been to Worm Con (oh, it's *so* much fun), and viewing the caps that were just posted online is just as stimulating as going to Vancouver. Oh, and man oh man, some of the caps from the directors DVD series, well, I can tell you . . "
At this, the monitor started beeping alarmingly, as the colonel's heart rate increased. Her temperature began to spike, and Brightman had a busy few minutes before Carter stabilized and they could resume their conversation.
"So this has happened before?" Brightman asked.
"Yes and General O'Neill has never let me forget it. Thank goodness this year he's taken a few days leave. I'll surely be over this before his return, it never lasts long, and you don't have to let him in on the fact that I was briefly a guest of your infirmary, do you, Doc?"
She was starting to reply, "Well, no," when they were interrupted by a nurse advising them that General O'Neill was calling for Colonel Carter.
Since Carter's hands were occupied, they put the call on the speaker phone. "Carter, you there?" was heard in that unmistakable voice.
"Hello, sir. How's the fishing?" Carter said, raising her voice slightly to be heard over the beeping monitor.
"The art of fishing is as entrancing as ever, thanks for asking. You and Daniel don't know what you're missing, just ask Teal'c. Hey, is that beeping I hear? What are you doing in the infirmary?"
Brightman and Carter exchanged glances.
"Nothing serious, sir. Just a, ummm, minor lab accident. I stupidly got one of my fingers caught on my laptop, and it needed a little attention." she answered, feeling quite proud of her truth, but not the whole truth, so help her God.
"Got your fingers . . ." O'Neill started, sounding puzzled. There was a brief silence, before he continued in a different tone, "Carter, remind me again . . . when does Wormhole Extreme's new season start?"
Confused, Brightman looked at the colonel, whose face was now turning an even brighter shade of red. If she didn't know better, she would think Colonel Carter was hollering inside her head, "Yikes! So busted! Why do I *do* this to myself!" But why on earth would she be feeling like that?
The answer came quickly, and from the speaker, of all places.
"Death by Thudding, Carter? Sweet."