"I might ask you the same question," the Lieutenant returned. "I've heard rumors that you're planning something new. What's up?"
"Oh, you've heard about SMATT," Tom said with a look of sudden understanding.
"Don't be smart; I'm sure that you're the one who started the rumors in the first place."
Tom looked hurt. "Me, start rumors?"
Torres ignored his feigned innocence and asked, "So what's SMATT?"
"Hm...SMATT...that seems to ring a bell, but I just can't place it....Ow!" he cried as B'Elanna slugged him on the arm. "OK, OK. S-M-A-T-T. It stands for 'Saturday Morning at the Movies.'"
"Oh... Wait a minute. 'At the Movies'? That's S-M-A-T-M."
"Yeah," Tom confirmed as they entered the messhall. "It was originally 'Theatre,' but it just didn't have the right ring to it."
"'Originally?'" B'Elanna picked up a tray and followed Tom to an empty table.
"Yeah. It's an old Earth college tradition, in which college students used to get together on Saturday morning to see cheap films."
"And you're planning on reviving the tradition." It was more a statement than a question.
"Yep. SMATT lives again. I figured it would be a good way to relax and unwind on our day off. Watch an old Earth movie, eat buttered popcorn and candy, drink soda and maybe even get a little friendly in the dark." He wiggled his eyebrows.
"Pig," B'Elanna muttered, but her eyes spoke a different story. "Sounds like a complete waste of time."
"And you sound like Tuvok."
"I'd love to see your face if he ever called you a pig."
"Ha, ha. You know what I meant. Who cares if it's an efficient use of time? It'll be fun! I was going to keep everyone wondering a little bit longer, but now that you know, I might as well let everyone in on it."
"So when's the first movie?"
"In three days. 0930 at holodeck one. Wanna come?"
"Depends. What's showing?"
"That's for me to know, and you to find out."
"You're going to keep me wondering?"
"If you really want to know, be there at 0930."
"Well, I guess you leave me no choice." B'Elanna got up from the table with her empty tray and headed for the recycling bin. As soon as she was out of the messhall, she hit her comm badge.
"Toress to Kim."
Harry Kim's head snapped at the voice. "Kim here."
"'Saturday Morning at the Movies.'"
"'Saturday Morning at the Movies'. S-M-A-T-T."
"Oh. Wait a minute..."
"B'Elanna!" Harry cried in frustration. He sighed, the brightened as he realized..."If he told her, then- Computer, where is Tom Paris?"
"In the messhall" came back the disembodied voice.
Harry shot out the door.
Three days later at 9:25 there was a small crowd gathered around the entrance to holodeck 1. On the wall to the right side of the holodeck door hung a poster.
..."SMATT - Saturday Morning at the Movies.
... Do not enter until 0930."
The rest of the poster was covered with a picture that nobody recognized. The title of the movie had been removed, but obviously this was a promotional picture for the film. It depicted several humans, as well as what appeared to be robots and a large, furry humanoid. One large figure was wearing a mask, and there were strange star-ships in the background.
"That's funny," Harry said as he studied the picture. "I had thought SMATT was a tradition from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Yet these seem to be a space fighters. There weren't any such vessels until almost the twenty-second century."
"I have been looking over the databases on the entertainment of the time period," offered Neelix, who had just arrived. "There was a whole genre of science-fiction, or 'sci-fi', as it was called. In fact, this picture looks familiar. I think it was one of the milestones in the movie-making industry, as well as in 'sci-fi' films. Something about a war in space, if I am not mistaken."
"You know what film it is?" B'Elanna asked. Immediately the entire group was looking at Neelix.
"Well, I-I do recall the picture, but I'm not entirely sure what the plot was about. It was just one of many sci-fi films, and there are many other genres, as well."
There was a collective sigh, and then someone asked the computer for the time. The holodeck doors opened, and Tom's voice joined the computer's: "It is 0930."
"C'mon in, guys. Harry, could you grab that poster before security sees it? Thanks."
The group entered the holodeck and looked around. They were standing on an old Earth sidewalk. A few cars drove by, and small two- or three-story buildings lined both sides of the street.
"The theatre's this way, guys," Tom said, taking the lead.
"Boy, you went all the way for authenticity," Harry said as he walked alongside his friend. "We have to walk there?"
"The movie's no fun if you don't have to work for it," Tom explained. Anyway, the movie doesn't start until 10 o'clock. I just wanted us to be early so we could get good seats."
"Good seats, huh?" Harry grinned.
"Of course! You don't think we'll be the only people there, do you? I just hope no one brings a baby."
"I programmed this to be random. If someone does bring a baby, it might start crying and disrupt the film."
"Well, I hope no one dose, then. Sheesh. Authentic with a capital 'A'! You go all the way."
"I do try," Tom replied, bowing slightly.
"Hey, Tom, how much farther?" called B'Elanna from the back of the group.
"Just around the next corner. Getting tired so fast?" he teased.
To her credit, B'Elanna ignored the barb and went back to the conversation she'd been having with Lieutenant Birch.
At the theatre, Tom turned and did a head count. He then walked up to the box office. "Thirteen, please."
"Yes, sir. That'll be $13.35."
Tom handed the man some money, received the tickets, and told him to keep the change.
Turning back to the surprised group, Tom said, "Everyone come get a ticket. My treat this time, but next time I'll expect you to buy your own."
B'Elanna stepped forward first. "You never cease to amaze me, Tom," she chuckled.
He smiled and handed her a ticket. The rest of the group followed, and soon they were all inside.
"So, how much is the popcorn, Tom?" asked Harry.
"Ah, you found the only non-authentic part," Tom announced. "All food prices - they're posted above the snack counter - are in replicator rations. I covered price of the tickets, so I thought you'd want to buy your own food," he added with a grin.
"If I'd known, I could have brought some leeola root treats, or some gartua snacks," said Neelix. "Maybe next week I could-"
"Thanks, Neelix," cut in Harry, "but we wouldn't want to ruin the authenticity of the experience."
"Sorry," added Tom, "no outside food or drink."
"Thanks for the offer, though."
Meanwhile, B'Elanna had wandered over to the poster hanging by the entrance to the theatre's one auditorium. It showed the same picture, but there were some names at the bottom, and in large letters it said-
"Star Wars!" exclaimed Neelix, spotting the complete poster. "That's right, now I remember. It's about-"
"Shh, Neelix!" Tom called. "Don't give it away!"
"Oh, sorry," the Talaxian replied.