He didn’t like it. Not one damn bit. And what made it all the more galling is that he once said “galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young”. And when he thought about it that was exactly what he wanted to do. He toyed with the idea of appealing, then thought better of it. When Starfleet makes up its mind about these sort of matters it rarely changes its decision. After all Spock had joined the Vulcan diplomatic corps, and Bones was finally an old country doctor.
He gave up trying to sleep, and looked at the clock given to him by Bones. It was early in the wee hours of the morning. He kicked the sheets off the bed in frustration, and fired them across the room. They bounced off a wall, and fell to the floor in a heap. The heap resembled a fully grown Horta. His bifocals were beside the bed, as was a rare twentieth century copy of Moby Dick. His father had given him that copy when he was accepted to Starfleet Academy. George Samuel Kirk had been a remarkable man. But when retirement happened to his father he didn’t react the same way. Retirement came as blessing. He even counted the days till it arrived. He planned to spend the rest of his days with his wife Winona. Jim Kirk was totally unprepared for it. Not really knowing what to do Jim decided to get dressed, and go for a walk to clear his head.
It had finally stopped raining, and the air had a bite to it. He decided to take a walk through old San Francisco. He had been through this part of town many, many times before, and thought he knew it like the back of his hand. But today was different. He passed the oriental food establishment that Sulu had recommended, the bar Bones favored, and a Russian restaurant Chekov frequented. But now he stood in front of an antique bookstore he’d never seen before. Finding it odd he had somehow missed this particular store every time he decided to investigate. There was a tiny bell attached to the top of the door that rang whenever a customer entered or exited the store. None of the electronic door chimes so prevalent in so many other book stores. For some reason he found this mildly refreshing. Behind the counter was a very frail looking man with snow white hair.
“Is there something I can do for you young man?”.
The first thought Jim had was that he was no longer a “young man”. He was a senior citizen, and nowhere near being a “young man”. But he didn’t mind hearing it. It had been a very long time since anyone had called him that. The second thought was that this frail old man looked familiar somehow, but he didn’t know why. So he decided to ask the frail looking man a question.
“Could you be so kind as to direct me to the books on twentieth century earth?”. Not exactly the kind of penetrating question he had planned, but it did have a purpose. The mans voice might twig a memory.
“All the books pertaining to twentieth century earth are at the back of the store Captain Kirk”.
“It’s Mr. Kirk. I’m retired”. As soon as he uttered the dreaded “R” word he discovered it wasn’t nearly horrid as he thought. He didn’t mind being called “Captain” either.
“Excuse me, but you look very familiar. Do we know each other?”.
“Well let’s see. Do you “know” me”. The old man wore an expression of puzzlement on his face. “I would have to say no. Have we seen each other before? Well I’d have to say yes. And more times than you know. The last time we met was long, long ago on a planet that no longer exists. Sarpeidon was its name” said the frail old man.
When Jim heard Sarpeidon he was taken aback. In front of him was a man who had sent him into the past where he was put in jail for practicing witchcraft.
“Are you Mr. Atoz”
“Gideon Atoz of Atoz Books at your service”.
“You almost killed me” said Jim, his arm out stretched pointing directly at Atoz.
Mr. Atoz protested and came from behind the counter.
“I did nothing of the kind. I simply sent you to another time where others, not me, tried to kill you. Now sit down and have a cup of coffee to warm your bones” Atoz replied.
Jim humphed. He had discovered while serving with Bones humphing was almost a lost art. There was a good humph, which Bones was a master at, and the kind of humph that simply announced to the world you might have gas. Had Bones heard Jims humph he would have been proud.
“Be that as it may, if I had died you would have been the instrument of my death” said Kirk in a more commanding tone.
“Tish-tosh Captain” said Atoz who gestured towards an empty chair and a steaming cup of coffee.
Jim walked toward the chair and sat down beside his host.
“There. Isn’t that better. You make it sound like I was a mass murderer Captain. As the people in your favorite century frequently said “I wouldn’t hurt a flea”. Please understand my planet was dying, and people freely chose to live out the remainder of their lives in different times. You and your friends simply blundered in on a very well thought out plan” said Atoz.
After sipping some coffee he offered some to Jim. Jim noticed the cup didn’t look Terran. When he enquired as to its origins Atoz said it was from his home planet.
“I’m glad you picked today to visit my humble little store. You’ve saved a very old man a trip, plus I have a gift for you”.
The look on Jims face was one of complete surprise. He had not expected a gift. He just hoped it wasn’t a gold pocket watch. He still found it hard accept he was no longer was “hoppin’ galaxies” as Bones once said.
“But this gift comes with a price” said Atoz..
Jim steeled himself for an attack of some sort.
“You have to listen to an old man rattle on about some things we both know of”.
Jim looked puzzled and surprised. Jim put his cup down.
“When you last saw me I was at the entrance of the library Atavacron. Actually I was in the process of going through it. The planet had only a few hours left, and I had no intention of dying. What you don’t know is where I went”.
“I had always assumed it was somewhere into your planets past” said Jim.
“That’s what I had planned. But somehow I ended up in another past – your past Jim Kirk”.
Jim looked as if he be stunned by a phaser. He was speechless.
“When I went through the Atavacron I ended up in a wheat field in Iowa”.
“I was born there” Jim interrupted .
Atoz looked at him mildly annoyed at being interrupted.
“Look who’s telling this story ?. Gideon Atoz that’s who. Now hush up. It’s not polite to interrupt an old man when he’s talking. He could forget something very important. And I suggest you remember that“. Atoz grumbled looking at Jim.
“Now, as I was saying, I was in Iowa. As I was new to your world, and knew nothing except the library, I went to work in the library of a small town. One of the people who frequented it was a woman called Winona”.
Jim murmured something under his breath.
Atoz stopped talking and glared at Jim.
“Do that one more time and I’ll treat to an old twentieth century custom – called the bums rush. You’ll be sent through that door at warp speed. Do I make myself clear Jim Kirk?”
Jim knew a warning when he heard one. Jim decided not to say anymore and simply nodded his understanding. Besides it would not look good to have a freshly retired Starfleet Captain tossed out on his rear.
“I became enamored with Winona. She was married, and her husband was a Starfleet security officer on a Starbase somewhere. I’m going to have some more coffee so if you want to say anything now’s the time to do it.” Atoz could see Jim was about to burst if he didn’t ask a question.
“Do you mean to say you had an affair with my mother?” Jim blurted out.
Atoz, caught off guard, and more than a little bit surprised, choked on his coffee.
“Heavens no” replied Atoz. “Winona was a married woman. She and her husband had two boys, Samuel and yourself. I loved your mother from afar. But I did care for her. I cared about the whole family”.
Jim was silently relieved. He did not want to start calling Atoz father. In fact one of the only things the two had in common was a receding hairline.
“One year I established my own bookstore. And that’s where I met your brother Sam for the very first time” said Atoz.
Jim winced when he though his long dead brother.
“Your mother was one of my very first customers, and on that particular day she brought along her eldest son. I’ll never forget him. A handsome strapping lad. When we met he had just lost one of his front teeth. Your mother picked out a book for herself, but Sam just looked. When I asked him what he was interested in he said “Kels”. Your mother said she didn’t have any idea what he was talking about. Then he said “no! the stuff your fingers made of” and ran off to get a book he had secretly been eyeing. He meant “Cells”. I think your brother started to become a scientist long before he moved to Deneva” said Atoz.
There was a tear in Jim’s eye as he thought about his brother, his dead sister-in-law Aurelan, and their son Peter. Peter was the only one to survive Deneva. Peter and his uncle had long since lost touch.
“And I’d like to present a book to you. It’s called “1701” and is about every adventure you ever had on the Enterprise since assuming command” said Atoz. “Knowing how you like antique things I had this printed on paper and bound. None of that twenty-third century garbage like holo-novels. Now, I’d like to shake the hand of the Captain of the Enterprise. There may be others, but there won’t another with James Tiberius Kirk in command”.
Jim didn’t know what to say. He stammered out a feeble sounding thank you, but some how it was far from sufficient. Atoz put his hand on Jims shoulder. “To thank me you could visit the store a little more often. After all, didn’t your friend Mr. Spock say “there are always possibilities”.
I wrote this story about fifteen years ago, and I felt like sharing it. – Tom