From his position on the floor, Colonel Jack O'Neill leaned his head
back against the concrete cinderblocks that made up his jail cell. He'd
been stuck in this hole for about three days now, and he was beginning
to wonder if the world had quite literally and figuratively locked him
up and threw away the key. His one-man cell in the Special Confinement
Unit was nothing to write home about, but he wasn't complaining. Yet.
Although he didn't like the idea of solitary confinement, the
alternative could be much worse, he mused. Having a roommate named Bubba
who thought he would make a nice girlfriend was definitely not on his
list of fun things to do. Since he'd been here, he hadn't seen anyone
except the guards. They seemed wary of him, and weren't a particularly
chatty bunch, but he knew they had a job to do. Still, they hadn't
beaten him up or anything and treated him decent. Evidently they hadn't
gone to the same school that his former Iraqi guards had attended. At
least, the cell walls weren't yellow, because he wouldn't have been able
to handle that. Nope, he wasn't going to go there either, he resolved
That still didn't take away the fact that he was cooped up in a box
for a crime that he hadn't committed. True, he had considered offing the
slime ball, Kinsey, plenty of times, but knew better than to cross that
line. Too bad he couldn't shake the hand of the guy who'd done what he'd
only dreamed of doing though. He rubbed his wrists, remembering the feel
of the cold steel of the handcuffs he'd worn and shivered. What a crappy
day this was going to be.
He cocked his head to listen as the sound of clanking metal doors
being unlocked resounded up and down the short corridor. He'd come to
recognize all the sounds of his new home. The skittering sound of
another note being shot across the floor, the clanging and scraping of a
meal tray being pushed through the small opening in the cell doors, and
of course, the less than complementary comments about the food and
everything in general were an integral part of his life here. Yep, it
was official now. This was so going to be another crappy day in the
The first time he's heard the skittering sound of paper skidding
across the floor, he'd wondered if this jail had a problem with rats.
However, when he'd investigated it by peering out the small rectangular
window in his door, he had noted that a piece of paper weighted down
with an empty toothpaste tube and attached to a string made of torn bed
sheet had been propelled underneath the crack of the cell door to lie
waiting in the center of the aisle. Soon, another kite, as he later
learned they were called, shot out from beneath a door on the opposite
side of the aisle, tangled with the first string, and was rapidly pulled
back to the inmate in the second cell.
"Cool," he'd muttered as he realized that he'd discovered the latest
in prison underground communication. Well, it certainly beat the hell
out of tapping out a message in Morse code on the cell walls, he
supposed. Not that he'd sent any kites, or attempted to capture any that
had obviously been sent his way. He just didn't feel sociable. Nor was
he here to make friends. And he hoped that if he hadn't been totally
sold down the river, he wouldn't be here much longer anyway.
The sound of catcalls jerked his attention back to the present.
"I want to talk to you. Come here to my door!"
"Hey bitch, let me give you some of this!"
"Come here, baby, you know you want it."
"You stay the hell away from me! You hear?"
The footsteps of someone walking down the corridor seemed to be
getting nearer. Funny, they didn't sound like the shoes worn by the
usual guards. He was startled when he heard the sound of banging on his
door. Jerking his head up in surprise, he noted the face of a woman
peering in at him.
"Colonel O'Neill?" she called.
Not bothering to get up off the floor, he turned his head to answer.
"Yeah, what do you want?"
"I'm from Psych and need to ask you some questions," she replied.
Curiosity and the chance to talk to someone at long last made him get up
off the floor and approach the door.
"What do you want to know, Ma'am?" he asked when he stood next to the
door. Now that he was closer, he could make out her features a little
more clearly. She appeared to be short and thin, with salt and pepper
hair tied back in a bun. Her blue eyes were framed by glasses and looked
like they'd seen too much, belying the fact that her pale face looked
unlined and innocent.
"You've been in this unit for several days now, and I have to ask you
some questions, Colonel O'Neill," she explained as she checked the list
on her clipboard.
"Hey, Psych Lady, I want to show you something," someone called down
the hallway. This was followed by raucous laughter, which the woman
studiously ignored. The fact the she was able to accomplish this raised
Jack's estimation of her character a couple of notches. 'Hmm, maybe she
isn't all bad, even if she is a shrink,' he thought charitably.
"Sure, OK," Jack replied.
"Do you have any history of Psych problems?" she asked. When she saw
the look of disbelief and anger on Jack's face, she drew back a moment
before replying. "That would be a yes, I take it."
"Yeah, you might say that. Say, what's your name?"
"You can call me Miss Kay," she answered as she checked an item on
"Are you having trouble with depression?" she asked getting back to
"Ya think?" Jack replied as he rolled his eyes toward the ceiling.
"I mean besides the obvious," she explained with a crooked grin. When
Jack just shook his head, she tried again.
"Seeing any dancing green elephants, or things you shouldn't be
seeing or hearing?'
"Nope, no elephants doing the cha-cha or otherwise," Jack wisecracked
back at her.
"Any thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself?"
Jack paused a moment before puffing out a breath. "That would be a
huge honkin' no, Miss Kay."
"Good, listen, these are questions I have to ask everybody. Contrary
to popular belief, we don't mistreat our inmates and if they have
problems, we do try to help them," she clarified.
"No, I haven't been beaten up or anything, just thrown into this hole
and left to rot, that's all," Jack said angrily.
"I'm sorry, but I can't do anything about that. But if you need to
talk to me, just let the guards know and they'll help you fill out the
request for Psych Services," she said again.
"Listen, would I be able to see you in your office?"
"I'm afraid not, Colonel. Not while you're in here," she apologized.
"That's the rules."
Yeah, well, I'll keep that in mind," Jack replied tartly. "Maybe you
could do something for me though. Could you get a note to some of my
friends on the outside?"
The counselor's face took on an incredulous look as she shook her
head. "You are crazy aren't you? You know I can't do that, Colonel
O'Neill. When you see the JAG officer assigned to your case, he might be
able to help you out, but I can't do anything like that."
Jack grimaced as he banged his head softly against the door. The thud
sounded like a muffled rifle shot and echoed through the cell. "Sorry,
just going stir crazy cooped up in this box, that's all," he confessed.
"Brings back too many bad memories."
"You're a former POW?" she asked shrewdly. As his brown eyes turned
to stone, she continued. "I figured as much. You have all the signs."
"What would you know? You ever been crammed into a steel box that's
so hot that it fries the skin off your back and legs? Or beaten every
day, and that's just when the goons in charge are in a good mood? And as
for what happens when they're in a pissy mood, well, we don't even want
to go there." Jack turned his back and leaned against the door,
scrubbing his face with his hands. 'For crying out loud, where had that
come from?' he thought. He barely heard her answer, muffled as it was by
the steel door that separated them.
"No, I haven't and I'm not going to insult you by saying something
stupid like I feel your pain or that I know how you feel, because I
don't know how you feel, Colonel O'Neill. I can listen though, if you
want to talk. And you might want to ask the guards for some reading
material or something to distract you. I've often found that reading a
good book is a way to escape from stressful situations." She chuckled a
little, before continuing. "And I would say that this qualifies as a
stressful situation. Wouldn't you?"
Jack turned back to watch the woman standing on the other side of the
door and laughed in spite of himself. "Just my luck to get a shrink with
a twisted sense of humor," he retorted sarcastically.
"I've learned that you can either laugh or cry about bad times. As
for me, I would rather laugh. It's easier on the eyes, and keeps people
wondering what you're so happy about," she explained with a smile.
"Hey, you're not bad for a shrink, lady," Jack offered as he grinned
"Why, thank you, Colonel O'Neill. I'll take that as a compliment,"
she acknowledged with a grin. "Well, I gotta go now. Just keep in mind
what I told you."
"Yeah sureyabetcha," he said. As he saw that she was about to leave,
he called out. "Hey."
The counselor stopped and turned back to peer into the small window
with a questioning look on her face.
"I just wanted to say thanks," Jack asserted. "I mean it."
"You are welcome, Colonel O'Neill," she replied gravely.
Then she turned and walked away from his cell. Jack stood for a moment
listening to the sound of her footsteps as she walked to another