[As the scene opens, we see many STUDENTS scrambling through the halls of an unidentified COLLEGE CAMPUS. There are FACULTY visible through the open doors of several offices, as well as DEPARTMENT SECRETARIES and WORK-STUDY STUDENTS. In the midst of all this activity, a transporter beam shimmers, and three VULCANS in STARFLEET uniforms materialize. They look around, puzzled.]
SPOCK: I believe there has been a transporter malfunction. This does not look like the Klingon ambassador's birthday party. [Peers at a STUDENT who runs by in a state of obvious terror] Of course, given the general atmosphere of fear, it is possible that someone is running amok with the pain sticks.
TUVOK: Fascinating. The clothing and visible electronic gear indicate that this is early twenty-first century Terra. Note the primitive communications equipment [pointing to a STUDENT's iPhone] and the bulky computers [gesturing at a Mac Air]. We appear to have encountered yet another warp in the space-time continuum, without which many script writers would be entirely lost.
SOLOK: No doubt the TECH experienced a TECH when the TECH TECHED during the TECH.
SPOCK: No doubt. [They move down the hall] Observe also that we are entirely invisible to them.
SOLOK: Or, these being inferior, unobservant humans, they are entirely oblivious to us. [Stares in distaste at a weeping STUDENT] I cannot imagine what crisis is responsible for these...disgusting...displays of emotion.
TUVOK: I believe that we have stumbled upon an ancient human rite of passage known as "finals week." My human colleagues have often spoken of this rite in hushed whispers, but I am unsure what it involves.
[A sudden burst of chatter from behind them. The VULCANS turn to look.]
STUDENT ONE: Gawd, my hand is, like, about ready to drop off. Can you believe Dr. Imsotuff? That exam was positive torture.
STUDENT TWO: Yeah, he's definitely second cousin to Jigsaw. Next thing you know, the profs will penalize us for going over the time limit by dropping Norton anthologies on our heads.
STUDENT ONE: I think they eat students for breakfast during finals.
SOLOK: This ancient rite involves...severing limbs and inflicting agonizing pain? And cannibalism?! Appalling! These humans are even more barbaric than I first thought.
SPOCK: I believe the students were speaking figuratively. As we appear to be in an English literature department, it would hardly be shocking if these young people were utilizing idiomatic language.
TUVOK: Perhaps if we locate Dr. Imsotuff, we will be able to ascertain the nature of this rite more precisely. That would appear to be his office over there...
[They move over to DR. IMSOTUFF's OFFICE, where the gentleman in question is talking to a very GOTH-LOOKING STUDENT.]
DR. IMSOTUFF: Yes, I know we talked about how literary texts are open to multiple interpretations, but you cannot argue that Dracula is the good guy.
GOTH-LOOKING STUDENT: But, see, it's like those Twilight novels, only Van Helsing doesn't really get that Dracula doesn't want to drink Lucy's and Mina's blood, he's just passionately in love with them...
DR. IMSOTUFF: [smothered wailing sound]
SOLOK [looking askance at the GOTH-LOOKING STUDENT's black eyeliner, lipstick, and nail polish]: Are these morbid-looking cosmetics an essential part of the rite? [Looking sideways at Spock] It is almost as if this student shared the makeup department of your era's obsession with blue eyeshadow.
SPOCK: Indeed. Although I find blue eyeshadow infinitely preferable to your makeup, which makes you appear to be the illegitimate child of Kermit the Frog and Arwen the Elf.
TUVOK [before SOLOK can start spluttering]: This rite obviously involves the study of hermeneutics. Clearly, we are observing a clash of interpretations involving texts from multiple sacred traditions. Although...I am unsure if the professor's agony derives from the challenge to his authority, or from some other, unknown factor.
SPOCK: But is this the first part of the rite? Perhaps we have failed to begin our observations from the beginning. Let us examine this room over there.
[They move over to a CLASSROOM and peer through the WINDOW. Inside, there are STUDENTS bent industriously over their bluebooks, while a PROFESSOR sits at the front of the room, checking her e-mail on a netbook.]
SOLOK: This process seems most primitive. What are those things in their hands?
TUVOK: I believe the technical term is a "ballpoint pen."
[Several STUDENTS shake their hands out, wincing.]
SOLOK: It would appear that I was right, after all...and as usual. They are in pain! This is an act of torture. The woman sitting in the front of the room shows not the slightest remorse.
SPOCK: Most intriguing. There must be an endurance component to these "finals," although I am at a loss to explain why the professor wishes to test the student's hands.
[The PROFESSOR signals that the STUDENTS should stop writing, and picks up their bluebooks. SHE exits the CLASSROOM, walking right through the VULCANS outside. They follow her.]
PROFESSOR: Well, I guess I'd better bite the bullet. [The VULCANS, baffled, look around for a gun] Where's my red pen...Let's see, mix-and-match questions. The author of The Origin of Species is...Lord Tennyson?!
[The PROFESSOR proceeds to jump around her office in hysterics, throwing bluebooks around and invoking the names of various deities.]
TUVOK: Astonishing. This rite of "biting the bullet," which apparently involves neither biting nor bullets, incorporates both calisthenics and what I believe to be...magical incantations?
SOLOK: I fail to see how tossing those stapled sheets of paper around will accomplish anything, aside from cluttering an already cluttered office. But then, humans are incapable of organizing a workspace with anything resembling logic. This one has put the stapler at least 3.5" away from its ideal location.
SPOCK [looking, for a Vulcan, slightly irritated]: Have I mentioned, Solok, that I am half human?
SOLOK [sounding, for a Vulcan, somewhat tart]: 232 times in the past six-point-three weeks. It explains much.
TUVOK [intervening before SPOCK can drop SOLOK with a neck pinch]: I suggest that the solution to this mystery may lie in the "department office," up ahead.
[They enter the DEPARTMENT OFFICE, where several ANXIOUS STUDENTS are hassling the innocent WORK-STUDY STUDENT.]
ANXIOUS STUDENT ONE: I really need to know my grade in Dr. Whosits' class.
WORK-STUDY STUDENT: Well, final grades aren't due until the end of next week. You can just check online then...
ANXIOUS STUDENT ONE: But I have to know now. The suspense is killing me!
WORK-STUDY STUDENT: There's not much I can do. Have you e-mailed him?
ANXIOUS STUDENT TWO: He told us that he would get to our grades after he had finished doing his Christmas shopping. I think he was going to buy complete DVD sets of all four Star Trek series, or something equally geeky.
WORK-STUDY STUDENT: You know, he did come in on Halloween wearing Vulcan ears and doing the "live long and prosper" routine.
[All three students giggle.]
TUVOK: We are...a fashion statement? I feel a great disturbance in the force. [SOLOK and SPOCK turn to stare at him] I mean, this is highly illogical.
SPOCK: Humans have long demonstrated a fascination with Vulcan...physiques. You will note that they have cast a sex symbol as the young me in the most recent Star Trek film, as is only appropriate.
TUVOK: This must explain why I was allowed to appear bare-chested on an episode of Voyager. [To SOLOK] You, however, dressed up in a bizarre baseball uniform.
SOLOK [defensively]: Mr. Garak told me that I looked most fetching in it!
TUVOK: At any rate, we have now ascertained that the ultimate purpose of this rite is to produce "grades." I wonder if these grades come with any tangible rewards?
[Another PROFESSOR enters the OFFICE, carrying a plate of TRIPLE CHOCOLATE FUDGE COOKIES.]
PROFESSOR: Hey, folks, I've got some leftover cookies from my final exam. Have at 'em! Remember: according to the Rules of Academic Calories, cookies left in the department office have no calories!
ASSORTED STUDENTS: Woo-hoo! [They descend on the cookies.]
SOLOK: The reward for grades is...a triple chocolate fudge cookie? Only humans would prefer triple chocolate fudge cookies to the true contentment to be derived from intellectual achievement.
[SPOCK and TUVOK would answer him, except that they are chewing triple chocolate fudge cookies.]
Then again...we are missing the Klingon ambassador's birthday party. And triple chocolate fudge cookies are much tastier than candied gagh.
[He joins in. Screen fades to black.]