A (not so) Bright idea ...

by Diane Kachmar


            Lee resisted the urge to run down the corridor to Nelson's lab. The fire alarm had cut off - meaning the fire suppression foam had done it's job. They were tied to the dock, so there was little danger to the boat - outside of whatever damage the explosion had done to the interior of the lab.

            Those were double thick bulkheads, meant to contain any of the Admiral's experiments gone wrong, but Lee was more worried about the condition of his Admiral. What the devil could Nelson have been working on in port that would set off the fire suppression system. It was against all protocol, particularly with the sub nearly deserted,

except the shore watch.

            They had wanted to come with him to investigate, but Lee told them to stay at their posts and let him do it. They had been surprised he was still aboard, in fact, Lee would have been gone by now, except...

            Except for his friend and mentor blowing up his lab. Lee lengthened his stride.  

He was almost there. How bad the damage was would be predicated on whether or not he could get the hatch open.

            Lee stopped outside the door. There was no sound coming from inside - neither the hiss of foam or a deep voice cursing. Lee didn't know if that was a good sign or not.

He reached out for the hatch wheel - it was cool to his questing touch. Lee closed his hand around the wheel and spun it open.

            He pushed the door to one side, stepping over the hatch still and stopped. His mouth dropped open momentarily as he took in the damage.

            The damage seemed to be confined to one area of the lab, the Admiral's work table, which was now covered by clumps of white and orange goo, that had spread from the table to the bulkhead behind the table and was now sliding down to the deck. Whatever had been the focus of the work on the table was gone, nothing was left but goo.

            A tan and orange goo covered lump rose up cautiously from under the table

and looked over at the mess now sliding off the bulkhead and shook his head. Goo splattered the table as it fell from his red hair.

            A laser gun was clutched in the Admiral's right hand and he reached over and turned the power off as more goo dripped off his raised left hand.

            Lee quickly walked over to the supply cabinet, opened it and pulled out several cleanup towels from the stack there.

            "Are you all right, sir?" Lee asked, extending one of the towels to his goo covered superior.

            "Blasted foam made everything worse..." Nelson griped as he snatched the towel Lee offered, and wiped down his face and neck.  "Damn thing wasn't supposed to explode..." he frowned and tossed the soiled towel down onto the lab table.

            "What were you lasering?" Lee asked, quietly, before offering another towel for the goo still dripping off the Admiral's hair.

            "I was not lasering," Harry explained. "I was carving!"

            "Carving?" Lee asked carefully. "As in Jack-o-lantern?"

            "Yes. For Angie's party," Nelson replied shortly, before burying his head into the towel and scrubbing the pumpkin from his hair, before he emerged again, decidedly cleaner. "I figured the laser was way faster than a medal spoon and a steak knife, plus Cookie isn't here to ask and you know how he gets."

            Lee nodded. "Did you scrape it out, first?"

            "Scrape?" Nelson raised an eyebrow that still had goo attached to it."

            "You have to clean out a pumpkin before you carve it, sir. It's full of seeds and pulp and ---"

            "That I superheated..." Nelson glanced down at the laser in his hand.

            "Tell me you cut off the top?" Lee asked.

            "Cut off--" Nelson laid his laser down on the one part of the table that was not covered in goo and put the second soiled towel next to it. "No one told me that. I was making really good progress, until the blasted thing blew up in front of me and set off the foam system." Nelson shook his head again. "I wanted to surprise Angie with it. What a mess."

            Lee offered his third towel. "Why don't you go get cleaned up? I know where we can pick up another pumpkin on our way to Angie's party and no has to know you didn't carve it."

            "You have a carved pumpkin?"

            Lee smiled.  "Only child. My mother indulged me. I do one every year. Doesn't seem like Halloween unless I do."

            Nelson cocked a skeptical eyebrow.  "You do have a knack with knives."

            Crane shrugged.  "Boy scout."

            "Enhanced by ONI," Nelson countered. He rubbed the towel across his forehead.  "Leave a note for Sharkey to have a detail clean this up and meet me by the sail hatch in ten. Next year, you do the pumpkin!"

            "Aye, sir. Are you all right?"

            "Nothing a shower won't fix." Nelson shrugged un comfortably. "It's more foam than  pumpkin and the table took the brunt of it. Drop and roll."  Nelson winked.  "That's the drill, isn't it, Captain?"

            Lee smiled.  "Those aren't meant for you, but I'm glad you observed."

            Nelson slung the towel around his neck. "Next time I'll do a little research first.  See you in ten."

            Lee gestured the Admiral to proceed him out of the lab and closed the hatch behind them. It would never would have occurred to him to use a laser as a carving tool,

but then again, he didn't have Nelson's creativity when it came to thinking up new ways to do things. Sometimes that was a good thing.

            Lee turned and walked up the corridor toward the control room. What he wouldn't give to be there when Sharkey opened that lab door to see what the detail needed to clean up.


The End