"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
The EMH sprang to life as the doors of sickbay slid shut behind the newest patient.
"Mr Neelix! What happened to you?"
"I..., I....", Neelix struggled to speak.
"Never mind, you can explain later. Can you lie down on the bio-bed?"
Neelix's response was an agonised moan and a shake of the head. Now that he was here he was unable to move any further. He stood rooted to the spot in a pose reminiscent of a rider who has stayed too long in the saddle.
The Doctor cast an eye over the forlorn figure as he activated his tricorder. The fabric of the Talaxian's colourful garments was singed and tattered. Through the remnants patches of bare skin could be seen. Unfortunately the skin thus exposed was red and blistered. Neelix had obviously attempted to remove the material that was welded to his body and in doing so had completely removed the skin from some areas leaving raw areas of flesh that oozed bright red blood. All in all he was a pitiful sight.
The Doctor ran his tricorder swiftly over his patient's battered body.
"You have second degree burns covering 47% of your body. I'm going to give you something for the pain and begin dermal regeneration treatment, then I would very much like you to explain exactly what you were doing to acquire these injuries!"
Neelix nodded weakly and bent his head to receive the analgesic hypospray. As it took effect he regained his powers of speech and locomotion. With the aid of the Doctor he climbed onto the bio-bed. The dermal regeneration began and he sighed with relief.
"Than you Doctor! The pain was terrible. I don't remember feeling pain like that since the time my ship was caught in an ion storm in the Zoramna Nebula. The turbulence was so severe that my cargo broke loose from its restraints and fell on top of me. I was knocked unconscious at the time but wh......"
"Mr Neelix!" the Doctor interrupted, "I'm sure that your injuries were agonising but I'm more interested in how you come to be lying here on this occasion."
"I was just following the Captain's orders."
"I find it hard to believe that the Captain would order you to set fire to your clothing Mr Neelix!"
"Oh no! Why of course not! The Captain certainly wouldn't do such a thing! I never meant to suggest that the Captain was in any way to blame! Captain Janeway is a wonderful wo...."
"Mr Neelix!" the Doctor stemmed the flow of praise which Neelix was preparing to bestow upon the woman he so greatly admired. "Just tell me what happened."
"The Captain has ordered the crew to reduce the amount of energy that they use for non-essential activities until we reach a planet where we can replenish our dilithium reserves. I'm sure you are aware that most of my time is devoted to the wellbeing of the crew and sot there is very little that I can do to contribute to the saving of energy. After all, activities that improve crew morale can hardly be deemed non-essential!"
"Yes, yes! Please get to the point Mr Neelix. I don't have all day."
"Well I wanted to do my part to preserve our energy supply so I thought that instead of using the recycler to clean my clothing I would use the sonic shower and clean myself and my clothes at the same time."
"Hardly an efficient cleaning method. But I'm not aware of anything in the action of a sonic shower that would cause the combustion of clothing materials"
"Oh no, the shower was fine. Perhaps not as effective as the recycler but satisfactory. It was the ironing that caused the problem"
"Yes, it's an ancient method of removing creases by use of a...."
"I know what ironing is Mr Neelix. What I don't know is how it is responsible for your current predicament."
"Well, the database said that an iron was moved over clothing to remove creases so, as my clothes were rather crumpled, I thought ironing them would be a good idea. But the iron must have malfunctioned because when I put it on the cloth it was extremely hot and my jacket caught fire. Next time I'll use a lower temperature setting."
"A very good idea but an even better one would
be to remove your clothing first. The next time you feel the urge to revert
to the use of antique laundry equipment you might like to examine the historical
database for information on an item known as an ironing board!"