“Come on Rimmer, it's been days!” Lister whined as he stared at the unresponsive figure hunched over his books.
“Hmm?” Rimmer muttered distractedly, immediately lost in his book again.
“Mr Lister is right sir!” Kryten tried. “And what is more, you are overtaxing your light bee!” Rimmer shrugged. “Sir, don't you understand? If you continue like this, your lightbee might explode!”
“What?” Rimmer pinched his weary brow as he looked up. His eyes were so glazed and bleary it made Lister wonder if the Hologram could see them at all.
“Kryten … what are you driveling about? Explode?!”
“Sir, you have been awake for 144 hours straight! As the ships hologram this is an enormous drain on resources. And at this point, according to our readings, you are at a high risk of exploding from Holo-fatigue.”
Rimmer wrinkled his nose in disbelieve at these words: “Oh smeg of you bog-bot from hell!! You're just saying that – no, no you're both just saying that because you know! Because you both know that this time!! THIS.TIME. I'm in within a gnats wing of actually passing my exams! That's what this is about, isn't it? You're just jealous because I might become an officer. Jealous gimboids, the lot of you! Just like that stupid smegging singing lettuce.”
Blinking in surprise Lister put a calming hand on Rimmer's shoulder as he asked;
“S … singing lettuce?”
“Yes, that singing lettuce Kryten brought me for dinner today. I had to throw it out. It kept singing at me about how I'll never pass.“You are gonna fail Arn”, to the tune of “If I Where a Rich Man”. Well, I'll show that jumped up piece of vegetable!”
Arnold Rimmer crossed his arms across his chest and jutted his chin out challengingly as he glared at the two men in front of him.
“W... well ...” Lister stammered as he backed away a few steps from the insane ramblings of the Hologram. “Good for you Rimsy!! You show those nasty leaves!!” the Scouser said as he made a halfhearted air-punch.
A smirk formed on Rimmer's face as he nodded smugly, then he pulled his face back into it's former sneer as he returned to his book.
“Indeed. Now smeg off, I have work to do!”
Seeing the Hologram once more glued to his books like that angered Dave Lister; why was this man so stubborn to the point of insanity about exams?
“Smeg sakes. Rimmer, you seriously wanna take the risk?”
It took a while for Rimmer to respond.
Lister noted Rimmer sounded slightly dazed and rather confused.
“Exploding, for smegs sake!!”
With a sigh Rimmer looked up again and shrugged. He gave a half smile as he tried to focus his bleary gaze on the Scouser in front of him; “I've finally hit the zone, can't you see that Listy?! I am actually revising, studying. It's marvelous.” His voice had that dangerous combination of elated and insane only the extremely sleep deprived can have. “I'm not going to explode, how can reading overtax the smegging ship?” He snorted as he glared at Kryten; “Explode? I've never been better! That metal gimboid hasn't got a clue.”
Just as he was about to tut at the Android for extra effect, a glitch ran through Rimmer's holo-image making Lister jump. Rimmer, on the other hand, seemed as if he could care less.
“Alright, that was unfortunate, but I'm still fine, tickety-boo and dandy.”
For a brief moment Lister just stared at his partner in disbelieve: this was crazy! Rimmer was further gone than he'd thought. A coward of the highest order, he'd been certain Rimmer would normally have freaked out being told he was about to explode, especially when receiving a glitchy warning sign. Those damn exams! Maybe, just maybe he should erase the whole smegging lot of them from the ship's data base.
“Nine days.” Lister then growled.
“Your exam is in nine days. If you think, if you expect for even one minute I'm gonna let ya sit there and risk explosion or whatever else happens to sleep deprived holograms you've got another smegging thing coming!”
Before he'd even finished his sentence Rimmer jumped up, his eyes fixed on Lister. Eyes crazed with a sudden deep anger.
“Could you shut up about exploding you smeggy bastard!” The hologram shouted in utter frustration. “I am not going to quit. I'm trying to pass the exam, I am going to be an officer! No more excuses!” His sudden loss of temper made his projection glitch again, Lister and Kryten shared a worrying look. But Rimmer just sat down and carried on as normal, or whatever passed for that at that moment, returning to his book.
At a loss of things to say, Lister too looked at the Hologram's learning material and his eyes went big. This couldn't be, could it?
“Erm … Rimmer, Rimsy-Rim … what have you learned?”
“Come on, just now, before we entered, what did you read?”
For a second Rimmer thought about this, his eyes fluttering sleepily as the sudden silence got to him.
“Well … I … I've … I lost my concentration … something about the quasars influence on ...”
A chuckle from Lister cut him off.
“No Rimmer, what you're reading is acknowledgments ...”
“What?” Rimmer blinked, not understanding what Lister said, but the Scouser wasn't even finished yet.
“And what's more; this is smegging Harry Potter!”
It took Rimmer a while to grasp what Lister said and even then he didn't fully understand.
“What are you on about?”
Lister closed the book to show Rimmer the image of the bespectacled wizzard, the hologram shook his head in confusion. Lister sighed and guessed he had to spell it out.
“For smeg sake Rimmer, are ya telling me you're so far gone you think they're asking about Harry Potter in exams now?”
His unnecessary breathing going faster, Rimmer's face twisted with anxiety.
“No, no! But … I … I thought ...”
The hologram shook his head: he clearly didn't know what he'd thought.
“What? You're saying you were reading Harry Potter and you weren't even aware of it? Thought it was yer study book, did ya? Smeg!! That's even worse!”
A pleading look from a pale and desperate Hologram met Lister's gaze.
“Are you sure it's Harry Potter, Listy?” Rimmer breathed hopefully. “I thought I was reading up on radical … flying augmentation.”
It was worrying to Lister how much the man in front of him suddenly looked like a scared little boy that had lost his homework.
“Well,” He smirked, trying to lighten the situation; “let me put it like this mate: I'm pretty sure not one answer in the section of advanced space travel will be quidditch.”
At those words Rimmer's eyes moisted over while his bottom lip slightly wobbled, it broke a little piece of the Scousers heart.
“Now, Rimmer, please, I beg of you; go to bed.” He tried. But Rimmer shook his head.
“I … I lost hours ...” he muttered, his voice dazed, as he grappled around on his desk clumsily, trying to locate his actual text book. “I must … I must ...”
Still he wouldn't listen to reason? What was wrong with the man?
Noticing how difficult it was for Rimmer to find anything, Lister tried another approach.
“What colour's the Cat's suit?!” He suddenly asked, pointing at the Feline, who'd been following the entire scene with the wrapped attention of a theater lover at an exciting play. He'd even brought popcorn. The Hologram's eyes followed Lister's finger with clear difficulty.
“Hmmm? …” he frowned, squinting his eyes, “... Erm … green … I guess?” Lister noted that his partner was starting to sound rather sluggish.
The Cat looked at the befuddled Rimmer in disdain and wrinkled his nose in disgust; “Green?! On a Monday? Have you lost your mind? This is bright pink with a hint of lilac! Green indeed!”
And with that he threw away his popcorn and left in a huff. Taking no notice of the Feline tantrum, Lister wrapped a concerned arm around Arnold Rimmer who had started looking rather scared.
“Rimmer, you've gone word as well as colour blind. This isn't worth it.”
Feeling how tense Rimmer's shoulders were, Lister softly started massaging him. The sleep deprived man leaned into the massage gratefully.
“But ...” he muttered, then said nothing as he uttered a shaky sigh and couldn't help but close his eyes.
Lister smiled: this could work.
“Go to sleep Rimmer,” He said in his most soothing voice, “come on, snooze, doze, dream, calm, relax. Rock-a-bye, Rimsy. On the treetop. When the wind blows. The cradle will rock ...”
“Ssgghhhh ...” was the snorey sound that came from Rimmer as he almost nodded off, but then a snort as he snapped right back up again. “No, no no! I see what you're doing. I can't … can't … Your plan …”
The man was desperate and paranoid. Lister shook his head and eyed Kryten.
“Hmm, seems like we're not getting through, are we, Krytes?”
The Android nodded in affirmation; “It does seem this way, yes sir.”
Then Lister smirked at his metal friend.
“Then I think it's time for the hard stuff.”
“Oh, I fear so, sir.” Kryten sounded almost too gleeful.
“Okay Kryten, give it to him!”
Kryten nodded, and suddenly music started to play from the Mechanoids inner stereo:“Reggy Dixons deep sleep and relaxation symphonies.”, the one thing that always got Rimmer calm even after the most severe of panic attacks.
The Hologram immediately recognized the sound and eyed them both balefully. “You utter gimboid bastards! Turn it off.”
But neither Lister nor Kryten were interested in Rimmer's tearful pleading.
“No Rimmer, you're gonna sleep, whether ya like it or not.”
Rimmer looked at him desperately, a world of injustice in his eyes: “Lister, make it stop!!! I … I'm so tired … Please …”
“Yes, that's why I want you to sleep Rimmer.”
“Sleep ...” Rimmer muttered longingly, as the music got to him.
“But I was doing so ...” losing his fight against crippling exhaustion Rimmer slumped down on his desk, his head on his arms. “I was doing so … so …”
“You were doing amazing Rimsy, and imagine: if you sleep all your new knowledge will actually store in your head!”
“Good ...” And with that Rimmer finally gave up and within a second he was gone, lost inside a deep, deep sleep.
“Thank smeg for that!” Lister sighed with relief when Rimmer started snoring. “Now let's get him to bed, Krytes ...”
Gently Kryten lifted the worn out Arnold Rimmer from his chair and carried him to his bunkbed.
When he was comfortable, Lister covered the Hologram with a blanket and then kissed the cheek of his sleeping partner gently.
“Night, night smeghead ...”