By Sue James
Author’s note: This story was inspired by something a very good friend said during a phone call and was written as a Christmas present for the same friend. However, we felt that others might enjoy the story so here is with names, location and title changed to protect the innocent!
His first indication that something was wrong was the sensation of cold and wet that dominated his return to consciousness; that and the fact that a sickening pain was drumming through his head and down his spine. Knowing instinctively that he wasn’t going to like what he found when he opened his eyes Lieutenant-Commander Chip Morton fought against that part of his mind that demanded to know what was happening to him for several minutes. The cold, the wet, the pain and a general feeling of discomfit told him that at least he wasn’t in sickbay but he was fairly confident that was only because the doctor hadn’t got a hold of him yet and that meant that he was probably in some sort of trouble.
Tentatively Chip tried moving his head and his arms and, although it hurt, he was relieved to find that everything seemed to work. Next he moved his legs and was glad to find that they also worked so at least he knew that he wasn’t badly injured despite the pain he was in. Reluctantly and very cautiously he opened one eye and was relieved to find that, wherever he was, it was in semi-darkness; there was no harsh light to hurt his eyes and make his headache worse. Feeling slightly more confident Chip opened his other eye and peered curiously around him. He was shocked to find that he was half-sitting, half-laying in a shower and that he was completely naked; no wonder he was cold! Water droplets gleamed on his shivering body and the tiled walls…..the tiles!, Chip blinked twice as he stared at the tiles surrounding him…he didn’t recognise them, this wasn’t his shower, he’d never seen this shower before in his life! “Oh, help Morton, that must’ve been one hell of a bender you went on last night, no wonder my head hurts!” Chip groaned loudly and closed his eyes again as he tried to recall how exactly he had ended up in this situation but his mind was blank and the effort involved in trying to remember threatened to split his skull in two. He groaned again and then tensed as he heard the sound of footsteps and a door opening; the space beyond the shower curtains was suddenly illuminated as a light was switched on and he heard the sound of somebody…..a woman, he thought…humming a tune he didn’t recognise. Chip felt a surge of pure panic assail him as he realized that he was about to be caught naked in a strange shower by some woman he didn’t remember meeting. Struggling to his feet he grabbed hold of the shower hose as a wave of dizziness overcame him and then fell heavily back to the floor of the shower as the hose detached itself from its brackets to crash down on top of him. Hoping that this was all just a dream and that he would awaken, safely in his own bed at any moment, Chip closed his eyes at the yell of exclamation he heard on the other side of the curtain.
“What the…..!” It was a woman, a woman with an accent that he had never heard before. Chip struggled to disentangle himself from the shower hose as the curtains were pulled aside and suddenly she was there looking down at him with eyes that were wide with shock. For a moment they just stared at each other in stunned disbelief.
“This can’t be true!” Lizzie Higginbottom stared down at the naked man in her shower in total shock. So often she had dreamt of this happening, of her hero appearing dripping wet, blond hair tousled in her shower. Except he had always worn a towel round his waist before, not lain there naked with his muscular limbs entangled in the shower hose! “Too much cheese before bed,” she told herself sternly except that she hadn’t had any cheese last night and no matter how many times she blinked at him he remained where he was staring up at her with such an anguished look of consternation that she found laughter bubbling up inside her and had to struggle to keep it down; she didn’t think he would appreciate her laughing at him.
Chip Morton knew he was staring but he couldn’t help himself. He had absolutely no idea who this woman was; he had never seen her before in his life and he couldn’t understand how he had come to be laying naked in her shower. Even allowing for some memory loss he was positive that he wouldn’t have been out with her because she was too old for him; she had to be at least the same age as his much older sister. And yet something in her eyes seemed to indicate that she recognised him and he felt his panic increase as she said, in her soft voice with its strange accent: “You’re him, aren’t you?”
“Him?” Chip blinked in confusion.
“Chip!” The woman seemed to be gaining confidence as she looked at him. “Lieutenant-Commander Chip Morton of the Seaview! You’ve got to be, you look just like him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreamed of this moment and now it’s happening I can hardly believe it! You in my shower! I bet nobody’ll believe me when I tell them!”
Tell who? And what on earth did she mean by saying she’d dreamt of this moment? Chip closed his eyes again in the vague hope that this weird situation was really just a dream brought on by stress and lack of sleep but when he opened them again the woman was still there her early look of shocked disbelief replaced with a smile that seemed to get broader by the minute. Chip felt that he was at a huge disadvantage here and he shivered violently as he struggled to sit up and take control of this bizarre scene.
“Gosh, I’m sorry,” the woman handed him a large blue towel which he grabbed hold of thankfully. “I was so shocked to find you here that I forgot my manners,” she grinned happily at him as he wrapped the towel awkwardly around his waist. “That’s better, that’s how I’ve always pictured this scene, you know….you with the towel, not that I didn’t appreciate seeing you…well, whole….but the towel adds a touch of mystery, not to mention decency,” she added hurriedly as Chip struggled not to glare at her. “Look lady,” he spoke carefully, “I don’t know who the hell you are or how I got here but I want to go home now so just give me my clothes and I’ll be going.”
“Oh, sorry, another lapse of manners!” the woman extended her hand to him. “I’m Elizabeth Higginbottom but my friends call me Lizzie. I’m very pleased to finally meet you, Mr. Morton. I’ve been a fan of yours for a very long time!”
A fan? Chip stared at the woman’s hand in confused astonishment. What did she mean by saying she was a fan of his? He wasn’t a sports star or an actor or a bloody pop star; he was just a naval officer who wanted to go home! He didn’t have fans and he didn’t want any either! Shaking his blond head in bewilderment Chip groaned as the action reminded him of his horrendous headache and, remembering his own well-ingrained manners, he took the woman’s hand and shook it carefully, “Pleased to meet you, Elizabeth,” he murmured formally, his eyes still downcast, “even if I don’t have a clue who you are,” he added silently as she grasped his hand and held it tightly.
“Are you okay?” The concern in the soft voice with the strange accent made him look up. “Only you groaned then as if you are in pain. I could get you some aspirin if you want.”
“No, I’m okay,” Chip forced a smile as she released his hand and eyed him doubtfully in much the same way his elder sister did when he lied about his health. “I just want my clothes please so that I can go home and leave you in peace.”
Chip didn’t miss the look of disappointment that flittered across the woman’s face at his words but he didn’t want to stay here, he wanted to go home and he couldn’t help it if he hurt a stranger’s feelings in the process.
“I can’t see your clothes,” the woman said as she looked around the bathroom. “What were you wearing?”
“I…..” Chip hesitated as he realized that he didn’t have a clue what he had been wearing but this woman must have and she must know where his clothes were. Suddenly annoyed he glared at her as he said firmly,” Look lady, I’m not in the mood for jokes; just get me my clothes and I’ll be gone.”
“I can’t get you your clothes because I have no idea where they are,” the woman eyed him sternly and he had a feeling that she wasn’t one to back down easily. “You’re the one who took them off to get in my shower so it’s up to you to remember where you put them!”
Chip closed his eyes again. Surely, this couldn’t be happening to him, it was unreal. He thought of how his best friend would laugh at his predicament, trapped in a strange woman’s shower without his clothes and a new thought struck him. Maybe this was some sort of elaborate practical joke? Payback for some of the jokes he had played in the past? It was possible although if it was he vowed there and then that Lee would regret it because this really wasn’t funny; it wasn’t funny at all.
Forcing himself to his feet and fighting back the wave of nausea that swept through his aching body Chip eyed the woman who still stood staring at him with a look of undisguised admiration and, in his best command voice, asked, “Where am I exactly?”
“You’re in my shower!” Lizzie told him delightedly.
“And where is your shower? Which town is this Lizzie?”
“Oswald..what?” Chip had never heard of it. “Which state are we in?”
“State! We don’t have states here,” Lizzie informed him
cheerfully. “We have counties and we’re in Lancashire in the north-west of
“Yes,” Lizzie smiled sympathetically at him; he did appear to be extremely shocked at finding himself here and she felt very sorry for him. “You’re a very long way from home, Mr Morton.”
You’re telling me! Chip couldn’t quite take it in; the last thing he remembered was….was what? To be honest he wasn’t sure what he remembered; he had a vague feeling that he had been on Seaview but he wasn’t sure.
“Look,” Lizzie spoke suddenly, her soft voice firm and decisive. “I can see that this has come as something of a shock to you. How about I fetch you something to wear? I don’t think my husband’s clothes will fit you but you could borrow his robe and then I’ll fetch you some coffee and we can talk about how you came to be here and how we can get you home again.”
A husband? She’s got a husband? Oh, help! What’s he going to think when he finds me here? You’re in big trouble Morton! Chip closed his eyes again in consternation. The last thing he felt like dealing with was an angry husband!
“It’s okay,” he heard that soft voice again as the woman correctly interpreted his look of alarm. “Joe’s at work, kids too; this can just be our little secret.”
Kids! She had kids too. How on earth did he end up here? Chip opened his eyes again and eyed her curiously. “You don’t by any chance happen to know Lee Crane, do you?”
“Yes,” Lizzie nodded confidently.
“I knew it!” Chip spoke almost triumphantly. “This is all his doing, isn’t it? Some sort of payback for a joke I’ve played in the past? Well, I admit he’s got me this time but it’s gone far enough so you can just tell him that the joke is over and I want my clothes back!”
“Oh, dear,” Lizzie eyed him worriedly. “I think you’ve got the wrong idea, Mr. Morton. When I said that I knew Lee I didn’t mean that I know him personally, just that I’ve heard of him, that I know who he is and although you might think that he’s playing a joke on you I can assure you that isn’t the case. I was just as shocked as you are when I found you here and it’s only because I’ve always had this dream of meeting you for real that I haven’t called the police!”
Chip Morton leant shakily against the tiled wall and studied
Lizzie’s face carefully. He still wasn’t sure that he believed her; she
certainly appeared to be speaking the truth and she had seemed very shocked to
find him there but what if Lee had gotten an actress to play games with him? It
was the only explanation that made sense. After all, he couldn’t possibly be in
“Shall I get you that robe?” Lizzie’s voice was kind, concerned even and Chip stared at her in bemusement.
“Yes, please,” he nodded. “That would be great.”
“Okay,” Lizzie opened the door. “I won’t be a tick,” she smiled at him. “You won’t go away, will you?”
“I don’t think so,” Chip managed to grin at her. “Not like this anyway.” He indicated the towel that encircled his waist.
“No, I guess not,” Lizzie grinned back at him as she headed out the door. “Still you do look dead sexy, better than I’d even imagined!”
And then she was gone leaving Chip staring after her as a hot flush of embarrassment crept up his chest and neck to burn his pale face. Sexy! This woman…who was years older than him and married to boot had imagined him half-naked and thought he was sexy. Chip wasn’t sure if he was flattered or not; the whole situation was so bizarre but one thing he did know…if Lee had anything to do with this he would make sure that his best friend lived to regret it!
“Are you sure that he’s going to be okay?” Captain Lee Crane looked on worriedly as Seaview’s gentle, amiable doctor checked the IV line in his patient’s left arm. “Surely, he shouldn’t be so restless?”
“He’s fine,” Will Jamieson smiled patiently as he adjusted the blankets covering the unconscious executive officer. “He’s probably dreaming or something as he nears consciousness. He’ll be awake soon and demanding that I let him out of here!”
Lee grinned at the doctor’s assessment of his best friend’s likely reaction to finding himself incarcerated in Sickbay. Like Lee himself Chip Morton had no patience with the doctor’s insistence that they take time out to rest and recuperate when they were hurt or sick and, despite the serious head injury he had received when Seaview had been hit with some sudden and unexpected turbulence he would undoubtedly insist that he was perfectly capable of going back to duty as soon as he woke up. Lee looked down at his friend with compassionate eyes knowing that he was going to be bored and frustrated when he finally woke up but longing for him to do so that he could reassure himself that the serious concussion had not had any long-term effects on his second-in-command. The doctor was confident that the only effects would be short-term… a terrible headache, an ugly, swollen bruise that covered the entire left side of Chip’s head, a lot of general bruising across his body and a broken finger on his right hand. Willing to wait for as long as it took Lee sat back in his chair and watched the changing expressions that flittered across Chip’s face with amusement as his friend battled his way back to full consciousness.
Chip Morton was feeling confused. He was dimly aware that he was
no longer cold and wet; in fact he was warm and dry and he could feel a sensation
of softness beneath his throbbing head and aching back which indicated that he
was in a bed somewhere but where? And where had the woman gone…the one with the
strange accent who insisted he was in
“L…..L…Lee?” Chip blinked, he was so confused. Where did Lee come from? Had his conscience got the better of him and he’d come to rescue him from the mystery lady? “Th…..th…that was…wasn’t f…f….funny, Lee.” His own voice was thick and croaky, his tongue felt like sandpaper and when he tried to glare at his friend the resulting pain made his eyes water but he struggled on, determined to communicate his displeasure at what he perceived to be a huge practical joke. “I’ll get my own back….on you….an…d on that w..w…wom..an!”
Lee Crane continued to hold on to his friend’s shoulders while regarding him with quizzical concern.
What the hell was he going on about? What did he think Lee had done? And what woman was he referring to? Unwilling to distress his injured friend further by engaging in an argument Lee spoke soothingly in a bid to calm him down as he waited for the doctor to return from a badly timed visit to the head. “Its okay, Chip; we’ll talk about it later, just lie still until Jamie gets back and checks you out. You gave us all quite a scare you know getting knocked out like that.”
Knocked out? What the hell was Lee talking about? He hadn’t been knocked out, had he? And where did Jamie fit into all this? It didn’t make sense to Chip and he closed his eyes again suddenly aware that he didn’t feel particularly well and that he didn’t have the strength to continue talking or to fight Lee’s strong hold on his shoulders which kept him pinned to the bed.
“So, you’ve finally decided to come back to us, have you Chip?” The calm, gentle voice of Seaview’s doctor prompted the executive officer to open his eyes again. Lee had disappeared from his line of vision and, instead, he looked up into the lined and kindly face of Will Jamieson. What did he mean…come back? Had he been in on the joke too? Chip was beginning to feel that he couldn’t trust anyone anymore as Will continued, “That was a really nasty bump you gave yourself, Chip. Had us all worried for a while but I think you’ll be fine after a few days rest.” Without giving the increasingly confused exec a chance to respond Will then stuck a thermometer into his mouth and shone a light into his eyes with a lot of “mmming” and “ahhing” before taking his blood pressure and removing the thermometer. “Well, you’ll be glad to know that apart from a terrible headache, a lot of bruises and a broken finger you haven’t sustained any serious damage,” Will smiled sympathetically at him. “Of course, you’ll need to stay here for a few days rest and observation but if you do as you’re told you should soon be feeling a lot better. I’ll just give you something for the pain, Chip and then you can get some sleep.”
“I…I don’t underst..and,” Chip stuttered the words seemingly oblivious to the doctor’s pronouncement that he would have to remain in bed for a few days yet. “Did sh..she do this?”
“She?” Jamieson regarded him quizzically as he prepared a hypodermic syringe with a strong painkilling drug. “I guess you could say that Seaview was responsible for your injuries in a way but don’t worry about it, Chip. You just rest and we’ll talk about it later.”
“No!” Chip protested weakly as the doctor stuck the needle in his arm and proceeded to inject his bloodstream with some drug. “I can’t rest; I want to know what happened to me.”
Will Jamieson sighed as he finished the injection and regarded his patient with concern. “Do you not remember what happened, Chip?”
“No,” Chip resisted the temptation to shake his head as he looked solemnly at the doctor. “Did I have an accident?”
“Yes,” Jamieson nodded. “Knocked yourself out in the shower.”
Chip blinked unsure he had heard correctly. “The sh…ower? Whose shower?”
“Yours of course,” Will resisted the temptation to smile at his patient’s obvious bewilderment. “There was some unexpected turbulence and unfortunately you were taking a shower at the time, must have hit your head on the wall or the floor. You’re lucky that you were thrown clear of the cubical or you could have drowned, water was still running when you were found.”
Chip stared at the doctor in utter confusion. He couldn’t quite take it in and he was annoyed to think that he had been so easily hurt in such a ridiculous way. He felt the pull of his eyelids drooping as sleep beckoned and he fought against it to ask just one more question. “Who found me, Doc?”
“Kowalski, I think,” Jamie tucked the covers firmly around his patient. “Don’t worry about it, Chip; you’re going to be fine and Seaview was undamaged so go to sleep and give yourself a chance to heal. Lee had to go and see the Admiral but he’ll be back to see you later and then you can ask him all the questions you want.”
Very reluctantly Chip obeyed the doctor’s orders and succumbed to the sleep that beckoned him although his mind was a jumble of conflicting thoughts and emotions. Was it possible he had dreamt everything? And if so where had that lady come from? She was so real he was convinced he must have met her somewhere but he didn’t remember.
When Chip awoke again after a long and healing sleep he found that he did feel marginally better and very hungry so he was pleased to find that the doctor allowed his head and shoulders to be raised against a pile of pillows in preparation for a much anticipated meal. He wasn’t so pleased to find that the so-called meal was only very milky oatmeal and that he wasn’t allowed to feed himself.
“You keep this down and you can have some chicken later,” Jamie said firmly. “And you need to keep your head as still as possible which you can’t do if you’re feeding yourself so you accept my rules or you go without.”
Chip glared and winced as the action hurt his head; he absolutely detested being treated like a very young child but knew if he voiced his displeasure Jamie would only claim that he was acting like a very young child so he kept quiet and ate the oatmeal with reluctant gratitude. His mood brightened however when, towards the end of his meal, his best friend appeared at the foot of his bunk.
“Oh, yuk, Jamie, hasn’t he suffered enough without you feeding him that rubbish,” Lee spoke in disgust as he peered into the near empty bowl.
“Don’t you start,” Jamie said warningly as he handed Chip a plastic beaker of water. “He doesn’t need you encouraging him to ignore my orders. This is perfectly nourishing food and it’s all he’s getting no matter what the pair of you say!”
“Sorry,” Lee assumed an air of contrition and winked at his bedridden friend. “Is it okay for me to talk to him or will that harm his recovery?”
“You know perfectly well its okay to talk to him,” Jamie said with twinkle in his eye that belayed the stern tone of his voice, “but ten minutes only and don’t go getting him excited.”
“I’ll be careful,” Lee grinned broadly as he sat down in the chair the doctor had just vacated.
“It’s good to see you awake, buddy,” he grinned at his friend. “How’d you feel now you’ve had Doc’s special breakfast?”
“Confused,” Chip ignored Lee’s attempt at humour and eyed him seriously as he said, “Doc said I knocked myself out in the shower. Is that true?”
“Of course it’s true,” Lee regarded him solemnly. “You should see the bruise on the side of your head, Chip; you must have hit your head real hard. I guess you don’t remember, that’s not unusual with head injuries, at least you still recognise everybody.”
“Mmm,” Chip continued to look seriously at his friend. “And Kowalski found me, right?”
“Correct,” Lee nodded. “When you didn’t show up in the Control Room to see what was going on I figured you were probably in trouble so I sent him to look for you. He found you out cold with your feet in the shower and the rest of you on the floor.”
“And that’s it? There wasn’t anyone else with Kowalski?”
“Like who?” Lee questioned.
“Like….a woman,” Chip lowered his eyes unwilling to see the laughter he was sure was on his friend’s face.
“A woman?!” Lee didn’t disappoint him. Even though he couldn’t see
his friend’s face he could hear the laughter in his voice. “Chip, we’re on a
submarine in the middle of the
“We’ve had female guests plenty of times,” Chip said defensively as he raised his eyes again to see the laughter on his friend’s face.
“True, but we don’t have any visitors this trip,“ Lee regarded his friend seriously. “You should know that, pal.”
“I don’t remember, “Chip was suddenly afraid. Although he knew who he was and where he was he didn’t have a clue what their current mission was or how long they had been at sea; his last clear memory was…was what? He wasn’t sure and it frightened him. Was it possible that he had met this Lizzie person sometime in his recent past and didn’t remember?
“What do you remember?” Lee asked with obvious concern.
“Have I been to
“No,” Lee shook his dark head, “but you’re planning to go there for Christmas.”
“I am?” The look of astonishment on Chip’s face was so amusing that Lee had to look away temporarily to get his own emotions under control. “Yes, you are, Chip. Helen and Chris moved there for a year last month, remember? You’re going to visit them for Christmas.”
Chip frowned heavily and closed his eyes as a memory fought to
surface through the painful fog that seemed to surround his brain. Of course,
his sister’s family had moved to
“I don’t think so,” Lee frowned thoughtfully. “Why?”
“Just wondered,” Chip shrugged and winced as the action caused to shoot down his bruised back.
“You just wondered?” Lee’s tone of voice said he didn’t believe Chip’s explanation. “Come on, Chip. You must have a reason for asking. You couldn’t make a name like that up.”
Maybe not, Chip thought ruefully but it appeared that his subconscious had. “It’s not important, Lee and don’t nag me or Doc’ll throw you out; I’m not allowed to have any stress.”
“Right,” Lee smiled and let the questions in his mind go although he wondered if this Lizzie person was the woman Chip had referred to when he first woke up. He had been very agitated and had almost accused Lee of being in cahoots with some woman. Was that Lizzie? Lee had asked Jamie about it who had said not to worry, it was just the head injury talking but still Lee wondered what his friend had been dreaming about. However, he knew Chip’s stubborn mind well and if he didn’t want to talk he wouldn’t; maybe when he had had a few drinks he would let slip whatever he was hiding but for now Lee’s ten minutes were up and he was anxious that his friend got the rest he needed. “Tell me another time, Chip; I’ve got to go now before Jamie throws me out. You take care and do as you’re told and I’ll come by and see you later and don’t worry about the memory loss, it’ll come back and it’s not like you’ve forgotten anything important, until your accident this was a very boring, routine trip!”
“I’m glad I managed to liven things up,” Chip muttered sarcastically as Lee stood up to go. “Thanks for coming by, Lee. I do appreciate it.”
As he watched his friend walk away Chip closed his eyes and saw
again the woman from his dreams. It was so strange that he could remember her
so clearly…her face, her voice, her smile…while being unable to recall anything
immediately prior to his accident. Still at least it was an accident and not
some elaborate joke that would have embarrassed him terribly if it had been
true. He wasn’t pleased to have been injured in such a freak accident but he
was relieved to know that his encounter with the mystery lady had all been in
his subconscious; maybe this Lizzie person was a friend of Helen’s, she was the
right age. He’d have to look through his sister’s letters and see if she
mentioned anyone called Lizzie, maybe someone she had met up with in
Lizzie Higginbottom awoke slowly to find that, for some reason, she was hugging her husband’s robe as if it was a giant soft toy. She wondered how she had come to have hold of it when, suddenly, she remembered…the shower! She had been fetching the robe for Chip Morton who was dripping wet in her shower right now. How could she have fallen asleep? Quickly she leapt from the bed and rushed to the bathroom but it was empty; there was no sign of Lieutenant-Commander Morton. Lizzie sighed heavily and clutched the robe tightly as she surveyed the neat and tidy bathroom; of course it had all been a dream…how foolish of her to think it could have been otherwise but it had been so REAL, so life-like. Desperately disappointed she turned to leave and, as she did, she noticed to two things that made her stop and stare in astonishment…first the shower hose had come away from its fixture and lay in a coiled heap on the floor of the shower, secondly a blue towel, the exact same towel that she had given her hero in the dream lay next to it wet and rumpled as if just moments before someone had used and discarded it. Lizzie couldn’t quite take it in as she dropped the robe on the floor and picked up the towel holding it close as she wondered about her own sanity. Was it really just a dream or had he really been here? How she wished she had taken a photo and stolen a kiss before she had gone to fetch the robe! What a memory and a keep sake that would have been! The ringing of the telephone interrupted her thoughts and, reluctantly, she went to answer it still clutching the towel. Whether it had been real or just a dream she knew that she would treasure the memory and this towel for ever!