Startled, McCoy nearly dropped his food when Bella sprang to her feet. Aliens had more to do with it than she realized.
“Wow. Since vampires are real there could be aliens. There might even be elves and Hobbits. We just haven’t seen them yet!” Her hands were up in the air, but then flopped to her sides. She studied her confounded guest. “Unless you’ve seen them,” she accused.
McCoy shook his head. “No. No Hobbits.” On Earth, he added in his mind.
“Humans aren’t supposed to know about vampires, but I happen to know about a human who works for some. Probably more than just her, too. I bet they do that all the time—breaking their own rules.” Bella was staring with concentration at the narrow ladder that led to the room above them.
McCoy wondered idly if it was a bedroom or just a storage space. Since he’d awoken, he hadn’t really examined anything but Bella.
She spun to face him. “Is Star Fleet a special-ops military thing like the Rangers or Navy Seals? Go on secret missions and stuff? Vampires would make good spies. Jasper and Emmett would love that! Except Emmett tends to break things a lot and is kind of noisy for a vampire, but he’s a whiz with computers.”
McCoy was admiring the girl’s excited movements with rapt attention. “Emmett?” slipped out before he clamp his mouth shut.
“He’s my brother. Edward always said we spent too much time together. Well, Edward can shove Emmett’s Jeep up his …” Lips pressed into a straight line, she emitted a low growl-like sound. Soon, a smile reappeared and she cocked her head to the side. “Who makes the crop circles?”
Warm, honey-gold eyes twinkling, hair shining like satin, McCoy was transfixed.
He suddenly realized she’d asked him yet another question. “Uh … crop circles? I heard bored vampires made them to tease the humans.”
“Sounds like something Emmett would do. So … a vampire in the fleet?”
Rubbing at the back of his neck, he peered up at her. “It’s all kind of convoluted, so I’ll go the simple route.”
“Okay, Leonard. I’m sorry again. It’s just the thought of aliens is so … so …” Bella shrugged her shoulders and retook her seat. “But vampires would seem like aliens to humans. I’ll be quiet and listen. I guess I’m kind of wound up. The last few days … Well, honestly, the last few years …” Her voice trailed off and her face took on a pensive look. She shook it off and smiled at him. “Anyway, a vampire in the service? Okay, I’ll hold my questions until the end. You go ahead,” she said with an encouraging wave of her hand.
“It’s not common knowledge there’s a vampire in Star Fleet. It was before my time, but I heard he showed up one day and asked to join up. He allowed himself to be studied in exchange for our discretion.” Sipping at his cup of melted snow, McCoy was more than curious about what troubles Bella may have had with that Edward person. Perhaps he’d learn more as they got to know each other, but it was time for him to tell her a little about himself.
He grasped the mug with both hands, deciding he didn’t need to mention his ex-wife. “Bella, I was born in Georgia in the year twenty-two twenty-seven. I went to medical school in Mississippi and became a doctor. After that, I enlisted in Star Fleet Academy. It’s not a secret military organization. When I graduated from there, I was deployed to a planet named Capella IV where my medical expertise went unappreciated. Soon afterwards, I was stationed on the starship USS Enterprise. Our mission is to explore space, discover new worlds and peoples—learn more about the universe. We offer aid where we can.” After another drink, he said, “I’m the Chief Medical Officer on the ship.”
Bella was watching him intently. It had to seem a pretty preposterous story to her. At least she hadn’t started laughing in his face. He didn’t think she would.
Her continued silence unnerved him. He took a gulp of water. “A few of the crew and I were on a mission to deliver medical supplies and equipment to the planet Fragileous 9. On our way there, I … got lost.” He shrugged. “In space and in time. I’m more than two centuries and thirty light years away from where I was.”
More silence, then, “You’re from the future,” she stated evenly. Bella blinked several times and sat back in her chair, eyebrows drawing together in thought. She propped her elbow on the table and rested her chin on her fist. After a slow breath, she asked, “How did you get lost? Did your space sh… uh, star ship crash?”
The utter calm in which she asked those questions made him nervous. She was good with weird. Maybe she was just humoring him.
“Er, no. Well, not as far as I know. I hope not. The Enterprise doesn’t land on planets. We have a device we call a transporter that we use to … ahh … the technician enters in the coordinates where we want to go. It sort of takes apart our atoms, sends them through space, and, hopefully, puts us back together at the place we want to go. Except this time I ended up here. I don’t know how that happened.”
He never realized how difficult it would be to explain what a transporter does.
Bella was nodding. “Like transfer booths in science fiction? It turns you into something like a radio signal and beams it to a particular place? ”
That term sounded familiar. His whole face brightened when he remembered. “Yes! Only we don’t need a special booth to transmit to. The transporter can set us almost anywhere on a planet, even inside a building, and it can find us and bring us back to the ship.” A smile spread across his face. “We call it beaming up or down.”
“And we have cell phones that don’t work if there’s a mountain in the way.” She huffed. “They don’t even work if you’re in a basement.” She leaned back and dug in a pocket. “I have my phone, but I turned it off. There’s probably a thousand messages and texts from Edward, and I just don’t want to hear it.” She wiggled a flat, rectangular object at him. “Jasper, Rose, and Emmett said some other brand was better, but Edward insisted we get the iPhones. Like Alice, he’s all about the most expensive or the biggest name. As soon as I can, I’m going to crush this one and get something I want.”
If McCoy asked, he was sure she’d tell him more about all those people she mentioned. He’d find out soon enough. It wasn’t like they didn’t have time. He tugged his communicator from his belt and flipped it open. “Annoying sound—that chirp. This is like your phone. We call them communicators. If I was in the right time, the ship would be able to find me. As it is, it’s sending, but there isn’t anyone out there to receive. Yet.”
Bella was nodding slightly when her eyes suddenly flew open. “Oh, crap! I forgot all about the GPS!”