AMOK TIME by Oscar Wilde
In a tidy little apartment on the Federation's most civilized planet,
Vulcan, a dark eyed-little girl stood by her parents bed as, hand in
hand, her parents breathed their last.
"Come," said her aunt, taking her by the hand. "There is no
logic in remaining here with these empty bodies.">
"What will happen to me now?" asked the girl, trying hard to look stoic
as her father had always wanted her to.
"You will be taken to an orphanage and sold into drudgery to the
highest bidder. There is no money for your upkeep," said her
aunt. "Your parents were dreamers, always planning for things
that will never happen and failing to consider the here and
Why, they died even before the crops could produce enough revenue for
their funerals. So careless were they."
The little girl said nothing to this, as her parents had taught her
that the opinions of grown-ups always took precedence over hers.
When they arrived at the orphanage the aunt was very glad to see that
the girl could be left on the doorstep and they would not have to go
inside. The aunt had never cared much for any children, much
orphans. Orphans tended to disrupt everyone's plans.
So the little girl was renamed T'Pring and she was sold as a scullery
maid and taken to the finest restaurant in Shi-Kahr. The
were trimmed in gold and latnum and the tablecloths were woven from the
finest silk. They were used only once and then discarded, to
ensure that no patron would have to tolerate eating from stained
linen. T'Pring glanced around as she was presented to the
before being taken to the scullery. It was just as well that
did as it was the only time she would ever see that fine dining room
that thrived just through the plaster in the ceiling over her head.
T'Pring was taken through the back door and down into the scullery
where it smelled of rotting roots and the walls were stained with sweat
and toil. There she stayed for ten years cleaning up the
of the elite of the hallmark planet of the Federation.
In T'Pring's little scullery, there was only one small window up
towards the ceiling. In the summer and winter and fall
could stand across the room and look up at the window and watch the
glamorous patrons walk by. Then she could dream of someday
wrapped in finery and gems as they were.
In the spring the window was blocked, as a pair of Vulcan's famous
silver birds would always return to nest in the very same window.
T'Pring didn't mind as she loved to watch the silver birds, maybe even
more than she loved to watch the painted patrons themselves.
especially loved watching them as they spread their wings and flew
away, so high, up in the sky.
One day I will fly away like those silver birds, she thought.
T'Pring had a secret. Her parents had given her a glorious
before they died. One better than houses, or land or even
latnum. They had bonded her to a beautiful prince, who would
day swoop down from the stars and carry her away.
So daily she toiled away, never complaining, never afraid, for she knew
in her heart this would one day end. She would emerge from
nest and fly away too. She would mother many darling babies
raise them in warmth and love, as her parents would have wanted to do
Daily she waited for the seaweed-monger to come. She would
the smelly packages from him and unwrap them so carefully, stowing the
produce away. She would be so careful as to not tear the
newspaper wrapping. Later that night she would curl up on her mat and
scour the newsprint for stories of her prince on the silver bird in the
sky. She clipped those stories and slept with them under her
pillow. When the clipping were new and fresh, her dreams were
always the sweetest.
One day her body began to bleed and she welcomed it for she knew that
this meant soon his body would need hers too.
But ten more revolutions of Vulcan around the sun came and went and
still he did not come for her.
One day a plumber's mate came to fix the sewer in the
He was coarse and rough and he moved like an injured sehlat when he
walked. He took her by the arm. "Come.
Attend me," he
"I cannot!" T'Pring cried. "I am promised to the dark prince
flies among the stars. We are souls bonded together forever."
"Foolish girl," Stonn said. "Everyone knows your parents were
dreamers. You don't believe this bedtime story they told you,
you? Has he come for you? Has he given any
Stonn grunted harshly. "Look at you. Even if it
what prince would want an aged scullery maid? You are not fit
serve his meals. You have already wasted your youth on a
fantasy. Will you also waste your family? I can
the children you desire. Come, attend me, woman."
So T'Pring went with Stonn. The first time he brought himself
her as a man, she clutched her face frantically to his bare chest and
held on so tight. Stonn prided himself on his
did not know she did so only to hide her tears.
The day she felt the baby move inside her was the same day that she
felt the decades old bond flare in her head.
The mores of Vulcan were most strict in these matters, so T'Pring had
little choice. Her body burned in the Vulcan way, but it was
nothing compared to the pain burning in her heart. Although
prince would want her now, she must present herself to him in order to
submit to his needs. And so she painted herself for her
in the manner of countless women before her. She practiced
the mirror to perfect that stoic face her father had always wanted to
see on his little girl.
But before she could leave the dressing room, she found she had to
paint her face some more.
When she arrived in the arena, it was almost too much to
There before her stood the prince of her dreams, the prince of the
castles of her mind. He wore the uniform of another land and
brought with him, as his closest friends, handsome men, too alien for
her to understand.
His world could never be hers and her scullery could never be
his. She knew then what she must do.
Although her heart was breaking, she walked up to the
Perhaps the ringing of the gong would disguise the final cracking of
her heart. "Kal-i-fee!" she said. And then she knew
silver birds would wither and die, unhatched, in their nest in her
There was only one last action for her. Her prince must
the sky to soar again. Discreetly she surveyed the
It was said that humans were weak. The one in blue looked to
the frailer of the two. She walked toward him with her
face held grim and still, not a crack in sight.
But wait! The alien thoughts wafted over her mind.
one! The golden one would never take his life. The
one would give up his life for him, as she would do; as she was doing
now. The golden one would understand.
"I choose this one." And she left her prince in his
hands. She called upon all the strengths of Vulcan
her through with dignity. And they did.
When the horror, at last, was over, Stonn took her home.
"Wait," she said. "I must go to the fields to pick some
litvis for our stew."
But T'Pring did not go to into the field. Instead she went to
high desert and laid her body down on the stone. For six days
nights she lay in the heat of the day and the chill of the night as the
pon farr took her body away. Her unborn son, to his mother,
On the sixth day a silver bird flew down to her side.
How untidy to litter the desert like that, thought the bird to
itself. But perhaps I can use something of this debris for my
nest. He picked a wedding ornament out from the decaying
of her hair and flew away.
Up on the Enterprise, Spock prepared to move from his solitary quarters
to his new ones. He began to disconnect his personal
computer. Almost as an afterthought, he opened the personal
and deleted all references to T'Pring. An unpleasant
thought, just as well gotten out of the way.