Old Scratch

By Silverbullet

Rating: PG

Genres: general humour missing scene

Keywords:

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Author's Note: This is a true story. It happened to me in a small town Pentecostal church, exactly as Malcolm described in his story. When I asked the preacher he said that the old woman was warding off "Old Scratch."  Anyway, that is MY story.  Kudos to Brandyjane for being a great Beta.

 



Trip and T'Pol were at their usual table for an afternoon break.  They were sitting almost side-by-side instead of across from one another.  They obviously had just enjoyed an interesting conversation.  T'Pol's eyes were laughing and Trip had a broad grin on his face.

Malcolm and Hoshi walked in, drew coffee, walked over to their table, and sat down.

"What's up?" asked Trip.

"Nothing new," said Malcolm.

"Same here," replied Hoshi. "What are you two doing?"

"Just talking about a problem I have in Engineering."

"Problem?  It sure looked like you were talking about anything but a problem."

"Skip it," said Trip.  "Malcolm, you look like you have something on your mind."

"I was just remembering an incident that happened to me one night in a small-town church."

"Oh, a story! Let's hear it, Mal," Hoshi said, smiling.

"It's not very interesting," retorted Malcolm.

"Come on, Mal, tell us," said Trip.

"Hell, it was nothing; some old woman thought I was 'Old Scratch.'"

"Old Scratch?  Really?  That has to be a good story," urged Hoshi.

"What is Old Scratch?" asked T'Pol.

"Not what, who," said Trip.

"Then who is Old Scratch?"

"You tell her, Malcolm," said Hoshi.  "Better yet, tell us the story."

"Okay, it was like this..."



Malcolm fingered his chronometer.  He wore two: an illuminated one that he kept covered because even its small illumination could give away his position; the other was a Braille chronometer that he used in the dark.

He was supposed to find a drop box at a certain time, get the information out of it, return to the small port, and leave by the nondescript shuttle he had taken there - all without being observed, if anyone was following him.

These damned people in Section 31 and their games, thought Malcolm.

He had time to kill.  He used up some of it being sure he was not followed.  Now he had over an hour left, and he was on a side street in a small town.  He looked around.  Down the street he saw a church which had lights on.  He could wait in there.  He supposed he might get his soul scrubbed at the same time.

Out of habit, Malcolm walked in the shadows as much as possible, but that caution had saved his life too often to ignore.

When he got to the entrance, a group of young men were just going to enter.  Malcolm slipped in front of them, using them as a shield for himself.

He walked in to the brightly lit interior, looked around. There was just an older female with a younger one with her over near the far wall.  The young men were the only other people in there. Malcolm sat in front of a pillar so that he was covered on the back.  He sat forward although he didn't like to because it would be too obvious if he sat in the very back, off to one side.  He didn't like being obvious.

There was a group of young males up on the dais.  They were a guitar group.  One played the drums, but the rest had electric guitars.  They tuned and then broke in to music.  It was not the kind of music that Malcolm was used to, but he found himself tapping his toe to it.  He settled back and relaxed - at least, as much as he could relax unless he was in his quarters at 31 field headquarters.

Malcolm sat tapping his foot, but he was alert.  He suddenly felt eyes on him.  He came to full alert.  He casually looked around slowly, scanning the interior.  He noticed the old woman glaring at him.  Her arm was extended and her fist was clenched, the middle two fingers against the palm with her thumb over them, the little finger and forefinger extended towards him.  She was jabbing the fist at him rapidly.  The young female was across her lap, facing away from him. She had no weapon, just her hand jabbing at him.

Malcolm looked away and continued to listen to the band, but he still felt her eyes on him.  He never looked at the older woman again.

The band stopped playing.  A man came to the dais and said, "The band is going to take a break, come back and play for another half hour, and then I will deliver my sermon afterward."

Malcolm watched the preacher walk toward him.  The man stopped, greeted the group of young males, and then stopped in front of Malcolm.

"First time here?"

"Yes, I just stopped in for a while to see and hear what your denomination was like."

"I am sure you will find us to your liking."

"Can I ask you a question?" asked Malcolm.

"Certainly, what is it?"

Malcolm described what had happened with the older woman.

"It sounds like she was trying to ward off the Evil Eye."

"I wasn't looking at her."


"Then she was warding off Old Scratch."

"Who?"

"Old Scratch, the Devil, Satan. Whatever you want to call him."

"ME?"

"Yes, he often pays a visit to see if he can pick up a soul. Not all of our parishioners are exactly good people.  There's a lot of public piety, so there is the odd soul to be had."

Malcolm looked toward where the females had been.  They were gone.  "They seemed to have left."

"Yes, the older woman probably is at home telling everyone how she fought Old Scratch for the young woman."

"You are joking, of course."

"No, she takes it seriously.  She is devout and believes in Sin and Satan.  She knows he is always on the lookout for people to corrupt, especially young females."

Malcolm returned to his seat.  What in hell have I wandered in to? he thought.

Malcolm stayed and sat through the sermon, which was all about Satan trying to lure innocents.  He stood, waited for the group of young males to leave, and followed them closely.  When they got outside he slipped to the shadows and froze.  He slowly looked around.  He knew that the side of his eye would catch movement better than from the front, and that when he left the glare of the lights of the church, any watchers would be temporarily blinded.  He melted in to the dark and waited for a time, then moved out along the sidewalk in whatever cover he could find.  He reached the drop box, removed the cylinder containing the information, and left.  He reached his shuttle and departed the small town, vowing never to return.

He hated these pickups but it was part of his job - a waste of his talents, but the higher ups had their reasons.



"That is my story," finished Malcolm.

"Come on, that is some story.  But is it true?" asked Trip.

"Of course it is.  Why should I lie?" replied Malcolm.

"Why did the old lady think you were the Devil?" said Hoshi.

"I think that the younger one may have been looking at me and said something to the old one.  I guess she thought that the Devil had come for the young one and he looked like me."

"Oh, yes, I can see it," said Hoshi, "The young female thought you were," Hoshi paused for effect, "devilishly handsome!"

Malcolm blushed.

"Devilishly handsome?" asked T'Pol. "What does that mean?"

"Oh," said Hoshi, "he is darkly handsome, a bit dangerous, and one can get burned getting near him, but still want to do so." Hoshi then deliberately batted her eyes at Malcolm.

Mal grew red in the face and muttered, "Need more coffee," stood up, and walked to the dispenser.

"I love doing that to him.  It flusters him," smiled Hoshi.

"Why?" asked T'Pol.

"Because someday I am going to break through that glacier.  There is a human underneath that."

"You'd better be careful, Hoshi.  You might get burned," laughed Trip.  "Do you want some more tea?" he asked T'Pol.


"Thank you.  It would be pleasing," she answered.

Trip took both her cup and his, and walked to the dispenser.

"What do you see when you look at the Commander?" Hoshi asked T'Pol.

"I see.....the Commander," said T'Pol.

"In a pig's eye," replied Hoshi.  "Actually, I mean another part of the pig, but eye will do. You see more than the Commander."


"I do not.  What do you believe I see?"

"One handsome male who you like to look at.  I bet no one would mistake him for the Devil."

"I am certain that Commander Tucker is not evil," said T'Pol.

"Well, neither is Malcolm.  But the old gal sure must have thought he was."

Malcolm and Trip returned to the table.

"Mal, did that really happen, or are you pulling our legs?" Trip asked smiling.

"Believe what you want."

"Okay.  Anyone else got a story?"

"I told mine to you and the Captain," retorted T'Pol.

"Oh, yeah, that thing that happened in Pennsylvania," replied Trip.

"What thing in Pennsylvania?" asked Hoshi.

"Private," said Trip.

"What about you Hoshi?  I told about being mistaken for Old Scratch.  What story do you have for us?"

"None.  I have lived a sheltered life."

"In a Pigs Eye," said T'Pol.

"What?  Where did you get that, T'Pol?"

"Hoshi said it to me a short time ago."

"What about it, Hoshi?" said Trip.

Hoshi looked around, and then stood up. "I've got to get back to the bridge."

"Guess no more stories then," said Malcolm, and he too stood and left the Dining Hall.

"Did you believe his story?" asked T'Pol.

"Sure, it could have happened, same as that whopper you told us about Pennsylvania."

Finis

 


Comments:

Mary

This was an enjyable view into our "crew". Its nice to see TnT interactions without angst. Hoshi shows her usual inciteful self both in realizing T'Pol  sees more in Trip than the "garden variety "Vulcan would but even more so her realizations of Malcolm's demeanor. Being embarased and flustered by her attention and knowing that there is an emotional person under his barriers and with persistance she can breach them. I agree with Cogito, it was great to see Malcom's competance which rarely surfaced in episode scripts, he was definitely under written. Thanks!!

Cogito

I enjoyed seeing Reed being a competent secret agent, because on the show they didn't really develop this side of him. And of course I enjoyed seeing Trip and T'Pol sharing some quality time, and the ever-observant Hoshi seeing what's going on there even if they haven't acknowledged it yet. Excellent to see a brief snippet of shipboard life in between the adventures we saw on the show, thank you.

Asso

I love it: I honestly admire the ability you have developed in making it that the personages say many sentences which mean much more than they seem.

Silverbullet

Distracted, nope. It was in  West Texas.

That old gal gave me a look  you couldn't belive. She was giving me th Horns and glaring utter hate. I didn't ven look at them until I felt her eyes on me. shudder.

Distracted

Interesting story.  Sounds like an Appalachian custom.  That church wouldn't happen to be in Tennessee, would it?

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