by Erin Alpert

I got this inspiration from playing Oregon Trail one too many times :~)  It
helps to have read my other stories first, I have included parts where people
are remembering what happened in them.

This story is different from the other ones I've written because
1.  More than three people are involved,
2. None of the song fragments are actual songs, they are all written by moi`,
3. There is a little more cursing, I guess I was in a bad mood when I wrote
those parts and
4. The technical difficulty actually has some tie-in with the story.

Warning: this story is rated PG, maybe PG-13 for language, but there are some
really sad parts, beware.

This poem is one of my favorites, I have only recently wrote it.  As you have
probably noticed, I love to put songs/poems in my stories. I know this
doesn't relate to my story, but really, after writing it, I was inspired.
(Hmmm...Inspired by your own work, amazing.)

By Erin Alpert

Twisted up into knots,
Tied around myself,
Tied into knots,
Twisted around myself.
Voyages coming to a halt,
Because of the knotted mess.
Golden rays touch the face,
Of even the darkest lands.

Coming for the killing of life,
But coming for the life of killing.
Loving someone never hurt so much,
But loving someone never meant so much.
Losing you was only half of the pain,
The rest was seeing you again.

Never to be seen again,
Lost in the darkness.
Trapped in the past,
The past, our past.
The future might never come,
The past is the present,
The present is the future,
And the future will never be.

Come into the light,
Let it take you into it's grasp.
Darkness has engulfed you,
But the light can bring you back.
Darkness is the enemy,
The light is the good.
But, we must not lose the darkness,
Because light cannot shine without it.

Walk into it, don't shield your eyes.
The light will do no harm,
The dark will do no good.
If you choose to say, were the sun doesn't shine,
Bring a light, and remember us.
For in the light, you will always be one with all,
You will always be one with peace,
Always be one with the sun beams.

The dark will twist you,
The dark will turn you,
The dark will tie you up,
Time and again.
The light will untangle you,
The light will straighten you,
The light will untie the knots,
Time and again.

If you should fall,
From the dark's tight-rope,
You shall be caught,
By the light's safety net.
But there is only one chance,
The net is only once.
If you climb back up that ladder, and fall again,
No net will help you live.

And you will fall,
And fall and fall,
And fall 'til there is no where to go.
Then you come back, and fall more.
Falling is forever,
Never stopping,
Never pausing to take a breath.
No chance to see the light.

But if the light should change your mind,
Change your hopes and dreams,
Then you have been saved.
You will never fall,
And fall and fall,
And fall 'till there is no where to go.
It  won't take you back, to fall more.
The fall has been stopped,
It paused to take more than a breath,
For you have seen the light.

The sky was a pale blue.  Not a cloud was in sight.  The wagon party traveled
on, toward Oregon.

"I expect a full report by 23:30," Kathryn Janeway's words to Torres were
simple, a full report on the problem with the Doctor's program, that was it.
So why was B'Elanna having so much trouble with it.  Maybe it was because her
mind was somewhere else.  She'd much rather be somewhere else, anywhere else
than here, alone, working on a damn full report.  She'd like to be on the
holodeck, the bridge, even the Messhall with Neelix, and to want that, you'd
have to be really desperate.  She felt like walking to the holodeck, and
relaxing, in a program, any program.
*I deserve a break,* she thought confidently, and headed to the holodeck,
thinking of a nice, relaxing program.

When Torres reached holodeck one, there was already a program active,
Neelix's resort.
*Sounds relaxing enough.*
She walked in, and saw four other people.  Tom Paris, Harry Kim, Kathryn
Janeway and Chakotay.
"Hi," she called, and walked over to join them.
Paris acknowledged her presence, and smiled and waved.  As Torres walked
closer to her friends, something odd happened.  The holographic sky flashed a
bright purpley-pink, causing the five crewmen to cover their eyes.  When they
looked up again, they weren't in Neelix's program .  The sky was still the
cloudless pale blue, but the rest of the room was different.  The beach was
replaced with the open plains of the 1800's, the time of the Oregon Trail.
Near by, there was an old covered wagon, and each of the five senior officers
beachwear had been replaced with clothes of that era.
Torres looked down at her plain dress and shoes, "Yuck!!"
Paris laughed at her, then looked at himself, and a look of shock crossed his
"Computer, end program," Chakotay said.
"Unable to comply," it responded in it's feminine voice.
"Computer, arch," Chakotay told the piece of machinery.
"Unable to comply," was the response again.
"Looks like we're stuck here," Kim noted dryly.
Paris had ventured over to the wagon, "Looks like we've got everything we
need to travel the Oregon Trail."
He rummaged around for a while, naming things he saw, "Guns, bandages, food,
clothes, wagon wheels, wagon axles, wagon tongues, bullets, a journal, some
tool for writing, money."
"Sounds like a fair amount of stuff, but we might need more if we're going to
survive," Janeway told her helmsman.
The five officers piled into the crowded wagon, Paris steering the oxen,
Torres, sitting next to him, the other three in the back.
"Y'know, I think that this has happened before," Torres told Tom.
"I think we have, but last time was the 1900's."
"Hmm... Deja Vu, what's next, the 1700's?" B'Elanna laughed.
"Hmmm, maybe," Paris laughed with her.

I think we've been there,
Done that.
Dincha hear me?
I said stop,
I think we've been there,
Done that.
Or was it just a feeling of,
Deja Vu?
Erin Alpert- Deja Vu

Every thing happens  so fast,
Don't know who's first,
Don't know who's last.
Go to my room, close the door,
Listen to a new song, one you've heard before.
See a new shop at the mall,
But I know I've been through it all.
Erin Alpert- Deja Vu

"I'm starving!"  Paris wasn't sure which was louder, his stomach or his
"What do we have in the back?" Torres asked Kim, Janeway or Chakotay, who
ever bothered to respond.
"Meat," Harry told her blandly, holding out a piece of discolored food.
Paris turned his head, "What?"
Torres carefully took the piece of so-called food from Kim, and handed it to
"This looks worse than Neelix's cooking."
Torres, and Kim nodded in agreement.
"Well, I guess we better stop for some food,"  Paris said, halting the team
of oxen.

Janeway, Chakotay and the other three officers got out of the wagon.
Chakotay looked at the food, "I don't think we have enough to last for very
Kim pulled out a gun and some bullets, "Tom, care to go hunting?"
Paris grudgingly nodded, and Torres offered to come as well.

When the lowest officers of the ones stuck in the holodeck had left, Janeway
and  Chakotay were alone.  It left them in an awkward situation.
"So," Kathryn said, "how have you been?"
The commander stared at her blankly, "What are you talking about?"
"Huh, oh. Just, how are you doing, in general?"
"Me? I'm fine.  What about you?"
"I'm fine," there was a momentary pause, when the Captain reached down at her
ankle, and collapsed, "ouch, my ankle."
"What happened?"
"I.... I don't know... I mean, all of a sudden...I felt this...owww...sharp
pain in my....owwww....ankle...ouch."
Chakotay frantically looked around, he caught a glimpse of a snake slither
away, "Snake bite."
He bent down to where his Captain was sitting, in obvious severe pain, and
helped her up.  She slipped back down onto the grassy plain.  Chakotay pulled
her up and held onto her arms tightly, helping her walk over to the wagon.
He lifted her into the back, then climbed in himself.
"It's going to be okay Kathryn," he comforted her.
She gazed blankly up at him, "Oh, Chakotay...."
And with that, was gone....
Did you ever realize
That you can't believe your eyes,
And that people tell you lies
And that no one really dies.
In a world
That is ours.
Erin Alpert--What's Next?

....Literally, gone.   IT was obvious that she had died first, but then her
body disappeared.  Chakotay stared at where she had been, trying to contain
his own tears, and did a fairly good job, only letting a few trickle down.

"Chakotay!!" Torres' exited voice startled him.
"What B'Elanna?"
Torres immediately noticed something was wrong, "Chakotay, what happened?
Where's Janeway?"
Janeway, the name brought more tears falling down his face, "She's dead."
The look of shock was genuine, "Dead?  What happened?"
"Snake bite."
"Oh. I'm so sorry, Chakotay.  We need your help now.  We couldn't find any
animals, but we traded some bullets for food.  We need your help to carry it
"Okay," Chakotay plainly responded.
"Follow me," Torres called, and shot off in one direction.
Chakotay lingered behind for a moment, he whispered softly to where Janeway
had been.
"Good-bye Kathryn, I love you," then he went off to find where Paris, Kim and
Torres were.

"You're kidding!!" Tom exclaimed.
"No, really, she's dead," B'Elanna explained, "and Chakotay is really,
really, really sad."
"I don't blame him,"  Paris said, staring deep into B'Elanna's dark brown
Torres understood his hidden message, but Harry just looked at them oddly.
"Did I miss something?"
"Never mind kid," Paris told  his best friend, "just be nice to Chakotay."
"Can do!!"

Chakotay staggered over, with a sad expression.
*I told blame him.  I'd probably feel that way if I lost B'Elanna,* Tom
"What do you need my help with?"
"We need you to help us carry this food back,"  Paris explained, pointing
backward at the pile of meat.
"Sounds simple enough," Chakotay replied, hefting some of the stuff that was
called food.
"Well then, lets go," Torres said, as she headed off toward the wagon, with
her share of the load.

The camp site seemed empty without Janeway.  But there was no time to worry
about it now, now the food had to be prepared for eating.
"This is GROSS," Kim complained, looking at the raw animal meat.
Paris walked over with a pile of fire wood, and set it down in front of his
two best friends, "There!"
Torres was near them, waiting for the fire wood.  She almost seemed anxious
to set something on fire.  Paris, Torres and Kim were cooking dinner tonight,
and would probably make something more appetizing then Neelix's latest
creation.  They decided to let Chakotay sulk.
"Damn,"  B'Elanna muttered, "I can't get this damn fire to start."
Chakotay overheard her troubles and came to help her, "Need help?"
"You could say that!!"
Tom walked over and observed them.  Torres got up from her kneeling position
to come up to Chakotay's eye level.
"I need kindling," Chakotay said.
"If Kathryn was here, you could just cut off some of her hair like you did
last time," Paris suggested.
Torres promptly elbowed him in the stomach, then turned to face him.
"Don't say another word," she whispered harshly.
"Promise," he replied, holding his hands in front of him, where she could
plainly see them.
Me... I need you.
Me... I feel so different.
Me... One who is,
Lost...Without you.
Erin Alpert--Lost Without You

The dried grass from the fields had served nicely as kindling, and the fire
was still burning brightly.  The stars were coming out, and it was now too
dark to travel.
"I don't think that there's enough room for the five...er...four, of us to
sleep in the wagon,"  Torres told her male companions.
"I guess we'll have to sleep out here," Kim suggested.
"I guess," Chakotay murmured.  It was evident he missed Kathryn.
"Under the stars," Paris gazed up, then looked over in B'Elanna's direction.
She just smiled.
"You guys *have* to tell me why you keep doing that!! It's driving me crazy,"
Harry whispered as loud as a whisper could be.
Chakotay didn't say a word, for many reasons.  He was too sad to, he didn't
want to question his best friend, Torres, but most of all, he knew what it
meant, and had no reason to ask.

The four officers had set up camp and were ready to sleep.  To the best of
B'Elanna's knowledge, everyone else was asleep.
"B'Elanna, you awake?" It was Tom.
* I guess everyone isn't asleep.*
"Yup," Torres whispered, trying not to wake the rest of the sleeping wagon
"Didn't I just recently ask you that?"
"That was last time we were trapped on a planet, and had to sleep outside,
and thought Harry was sleeping."
Torres looked at him, *Oh*, funny the way he said it.  It seemed as if he was
remembering something about it.  Then, she realized what.  The last starry
night they'd spent together, and with Harry, can't forget little Harry, was
incredible.  Maybe if they'd forgotten "little"  Harry, the whole experience
might have been different.  And now that Torres thought about it, maybe she's
glad Kim was there, considering she'd probably regret anything that happened.
"Were you going to say something, Tom?"
"Yes, I...I don't remember."
Now Torres was doing it, and she noticed Paris looking at her, much like she
was at him just a few moments earlier.
"Well, B'Elanna, good night."
"You too."

When people are always kind,
And they're always on your mind,
That is when we will find,
True happiness for our kind.
And we really know what is next.
Erin Alpert--What's Next?

It seemed that the sun had risen earlier than ever before.  B'Elanna was as
tired as she'd ever been.
"Hello?"  The voice was coming from above her.
"Wake up."
"I am up," she quickly retorted to the voice, Tom's voice.
She was still lying on the grassy field, while every one else, except for her
and Paris were missing.
Torres stood up and asked, "Where is everyone?"
"D'know, I think they went to find something for breakfast."
"Good idea, I'm starving!!"
Then, as if her voice queued them, Chakotay and Kim came back from off in the
"Oh. Wow," Torres said, staring at the huge sack of berries, and other
"We would have had a lot more, if you two helped," Kim retorted, looking
first at B'Elanna, then letting his gaze shift to Tom.
"Hey, some one had to stay here with 'sleeping beauty'!"
"Excuse me!?"
"Oh never mind," Paris shot back at B'Elanna.
"Just knock it off you two," Chakotay interrupted the raging fight.
"Fine," Torres looked slowly toward Tom, "sorry."
"I'm sorry, too."
"Is any one going to apologize to me?"  Kim asked innocently.
Torres caught Tom's gaze with her eye, causing him to look in her direction,
a smile creeping up his face.
"No," B'Elanna replied sarcastically.

Everyone walks to a different beat.
Skipping through the summer sun.
Why can't I chase the wind,
Just like everyone else?
I belong in a different world,
With all the people I know.
Someone is calling me home.
I now know what's wrong.
Erin Alpert--Questions

The first river of the trip was huge, and a shimmering blue.
"Wow,"  Torres breathed.
"How do we cross?"  Tom asked.
"We either ford it, or caulk it," Chakotay told him.
"I suggest we ford it, caulking it would take too long," Kim added his two
"Agreed,"  the Commander replied, "Tom, B'Elanna, you prepare the wagon."
"'Kay," Torres nodded, then headed off, Tom following close behind.

The wagon was ready, and it began to float across the wide river.
"So far, so good,"  Kim murmured.
*Famous last words,*  Paris thought.
The wagon suddenly shook, as water seeped in through the sides.
"We're sinking," Chakotay called, desperately trying to escape from the back
of the covered wagon, and that was the last Torres and Paris heard of him.

Torres pulled herself onto the shore, coughing and gasping for air.
"B'Elanna, it's okay,"  It was Tom, at least he survived.
"Tom?"  She asked, vision still blurred from the icy water.
"Yeah B'Elanna, it me.  You're okay."
"Where's Chakotay?"
"I'm afraid he didn't get out in time."
"And Harry?"
Paris shook his head no.  Torres stood up and tried to run back into the
water.  Tom grabbed her arms, restraining her.
"B'Elanna, no."
"No!!! It's not too late, I can still...I have to try...please Tom, please."
"B'Elanna, no, you can't. They're gone."
Torres turned toward him, and buried her face in his shoulder. She looked
like she was crying, but her eyes remained dry.  Paris gently stroked her
"B'Elanna, it's okay...It's okay," he was trying to contain his own tears.
"No...Tom...it's not okay...I just lost my best friend...I'll...I'll.." She
couldn't get the words out before once again hiding her face.
He stroked her hair once more, then pulled her a little closer, burying his
eyes in her hair.
"B'Elanna, it's okay, every thing will be okay...I mean, we still have each
other...I lost my best friend too."
She looked up with sudden realization, eyes red, even though she hadn't cried
a single tear.  She could feel the sadness he felt, and the tears in her
hair.  Tom pulled his face up, eyes red as well, but his face was wet.
"Oh.. Tom.."

The girl was a containment boom, keeping emotions in, and reality out.  Paris
had finally broken through, finally seen the inner human in her.  Her
new-found tenderness, and warmth, that could only be brought out by a
tragedy.  But Tom was to sad to enjoy it, he had lost his best friend, like
B'Elanna had hers.  And things weren't going to get better.

The nippy air was colder than it seemed before, probably because the two
weary travelers were soaking wet, from the icy river.
"I'm freezing, and it's not a figure of speech."
"Tom, I know you're cold, I am too, but we have to go on."
"No, B'Elanna," he sneezed, "you don't understand, I think I'm really
"I think you're really crazy," she took his hand.  It felt like pure ice,
"You weren't kidding."
"For once, I wasn't."
Torres wrapped both hands around the one of Tom's, "Warmer?"
"Much, but that's only one hand."
"There's nothing else I can do.  I'm sorry Tom."
He slowly lowered to his knees, and snow began to fall lightly at first.
Then harder, and harder.  Torres sat down next to him.
"Oh, damn! This can't be happening.  Tom, tell me I'm dreaming."
"I could tell you you're dreaming," he stopped, he was shaking from the cold,
"But that would be a lie."
B'Elanna leaned over, rested her head on his shoulder, took both of his hands
into hers, and sighed.
"I wish, this didn't happen," B'Elanna whispered into his ear.
"I wish," Tom whispered back.
Then they just sat there, staring into each others eyes, until Tom's closed,
never to open again.
"Oh, no!! Damn!!  This can't be happening!!!"
She was screaming to no one, no one that could hear her at least.

B'Elanna was wandering through the open plains, cursing her miserable life.
Then she spotted someone, a hunter from this time period.
"Help me!!" Torres called.
The hunter didn't respond, instead, he just walked nearer and nearer.
"Help!" she called again.
"You're some kind of witch!" the hunter shouted, as a bullet flew from his
Torres couldn't react until it was too late, and blood was dripping from her
side.  She pushed both of her hands against it, trying to stop the bleeding.
She fell to the ground, barely able to breath, gasping for air.

The hunter pulled closer, took one look at B'Elanna's face and almost
"This girl is more of a witch than I thought," then he fired the shot, the
shot that ended the existence of B'Elanna Torres.
Escaping from my tragic kingdom,
Running from the final fury.
I've had too many violations,
I am not one of the survivors.
I am time's only enemy,
My life is one big gamble.
Everything is on the line,
But I've got nothing to pay with.
Erin Alpert--Ghost of  a Chance

"B'Elanna, wake up."
She slowly opened her eyes, and looked around, the holodeck.
"Tom?" she queried.
"Yeah,, it's me."
"But.. But you're.."
"Dead, I know.  You weren't dreaming."
"What happened."
"There was a serious holographic imagining malfunction.  It screwed up the
programming, we all got transferred to another program.  When we 'died' we
came back here," Paris explained to the dazed engineer.
She got up off of the floor she found herself lying on, and pulled herself
into his arms.
"You mean, they aren't dead?"
"That's what I'm saying."
Torres was almost as happy as she ever thought she'd be.  She just wanted to
kiss him she was so happy, but resisted the impulse.
"Where are they?" She asked instead.
"They're all here and accounted for."
"What do they remember?"
"Everything up to the point they 'died', but nothing after it."
Once again she had that impulse, but this time, she didn't fight it.  She was
too excited for words.

The End :+)

Copyright 1997, by Erin Alpert
Yeah, yeah.  I said it before, but for legal purposes, I'll say it again.
Viacom/Paramount <shudder> owns these characters, but the story is mine, ALL
MINE, <insert sinister laughter here> Comments are welcome to me, at