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[2005: AUG-SEP] The Devil in the Dark


Shedet
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'There's a devil in there.'

The words continued to echo through Ensign Simon Collins mind as he unpacked his duffel bag. His arrival had been anything, but boring. He met a pretty girl. He spilled his food at mess. He met Ensign Mark Brady with a story of a Devil in the jefferies tube!

'Devil? Brady must be crazy. There can't be a devil in the Jefferies tube.'

Brady was known for his cruel practical jokes on the new ensigns, but other ensigns had agreed. They had seen something moving in the dark.

'The captain doesn't believe it exists, but if you catch it you'll prove that you are worth your weight on this ship.' Brady had said.

Simon was new onboard. The USS Republic had just begun it’s patrol of the Romulan Nuetral Zone. Though, he was still quite new, his curiosity about the devil was getting the better of him.

"Well, all done." Simon said tossing the empty duffel bag. He left his quarters and went out to ten-forward lounge.

********

The glass doors of the Ten-forward swished open, dinner shift was in full swing. He found an empty table and sat down. Within two minutes a pretty Orion girl joined him.

Simon smiled. He had met her briefly at the shuttle bay. Her name was Osha. She had been a member of the welcome committee along with Brady.

"Can I buy you a drink?" Simon asked.

"No thank you." She replied abruptly.

"Is there something wrong?" he asked.

Her eyes looked up from the table and stared at him. "What?"

"What's wrong? You act like there's a problem."

She shook her head. "Nothing."

"Come on, let the new guy help."

Osha paused for a second. She looked directly at him and stated, "Don't look for the devil!"

Simon was taken aback. He tried not to look shocked. Attempting to keep an air of nonchalance he stirred his drink and asked, "Why?"

Her small mouth clamped shut. Feeling a presence behind him, he was about to turn when an arogant voice said,"Well, how's your stay, Collins?"

Simon turned to see Ensign Mark Brady. He was the senior Ensign of the Republic, a very condescending man. The Lieutenant at the purser's office had warned him about Brady. He made the life of new crewmembers unbearable.

"Fine." Simon answered turning his back to him.

"Have you thought about the devil?" he asked pulling a chair to the table.

"Hmm?" Simon said looking up.

Brady's eyes narrowed, then he smiled. "You're telling me you haven't thought about the devil in the jefferies tube."

"Brady, let's not talk about this." Osha interrupted.

"What? You afraid?" Brady sneered.

Simon interrupted. "You mean other people have looked for this…devil."

"Yep." Brady said. "About five ensigns had the guts to go look for it. Scared a guy in engineering so bad he almost wet himself."

Brady broke out in laughter.

Osha stood up. "I've got to get to my shift. Simon, please consider what I said."

Before either could protest, she walked away.

"Cranky woman, isn't she?" asked Brady.

Simon finished his drink. "I've got to go report to Security."

"You're chicken, aren't you?" Brady grinned.

"What?" Simon said. He was irritated now.

"You're chicken. You know there is something there, don't you…and you don't want to face it. Some security officer you are."

Ensign Collins fumed. He kept the surge of anger under control. He stepped up to Brady. He glared at him. "Listen, Mr. Brady. I'm not afraid of anything. I joined Star Fleet to protect the Federation and her allies. I'm not afraid of any make believe devil."

"Fine." Brady said standing. "Tonight, on Gamma shift, I'll have Gregson waiting for you at tube B-10. Be there."

"Why aren't you going to be there?" Simon asked.

He laughed. "I've seen plenty of guys get the livin' daylights scared out of them. It's gotten boring."

Simon didn't acknowledge his remark. He said, "Gamma shift. Tube B-10. I'll be there."

Simon left. The echo of Brady's chuckles followed him down the corridor.

**********

The hallway was empty on gamma shift. Simon stood nervously wiping his palm against his pants. He heard someone coming. Gregson came around the corner.

Gregson was a terran who was part of Brady's "clan". He grinned sadistically and said, "Ready to go get it?"

"I'm ready." Simon snapped trying to look relaxed.

"It's sad. All of them were like this. The poor spirit probably wishes that he was left alone."

"How is this spirit here?" Simon asked looking around half hoping half wishing that a senior officer would show up and order them away.

"Yes. An ensign of the first Republic in Kirk's time, he disobeyed his captain's order and entered the Jefferies tube in an attempt to get to the escape pods. The tube was hit when Klingon disrupters pierced the shields. Because of his wickedness and disobedience, his spirit now continues to wander the tubes."

Simon shivered and then jumped when Gregson laughed. "You nervous?"

"Of course not." He answered, but by the grin Simon knew he wasn't believed.

Someone else came around the corner and he hoped that it was a senior officer, but it was Osha. She frowned.

"So, you're going on this silly hunt."

"Silly?" Simon said. "If there is something in there that is the threat to this ship…"

Osha shook her head. "Don't do it, Simon. You'll regret it. Trust me."

"You going to let a girl change your mind? I hope you're not that big of a sissy. The devil won't eat ya, just scare ya."

Osha shook her head. Surprising the Ensign, she moved closely and pressed her lips against his. Simon was to shocked to push away, but he felt something pressed in to his chest. He took it and looked down at a small phaser.

"Good luck." She whispeared.

Osha turned and left. Simon pocketed the phaser thoroughly scared. Did Osha think he was going to die?

"Time's just right for him to start walking." Gregson said. "He'll be out of the spirit world to make his trek to the place he died. You got till then to get him."

Simon's face was white, but he couldn't back down now. He would be the laughing stock of the whole ship or worse, added to the list of failures and be considered a looser for the rest of his tour of duty.

Collins grabbed a hold of the handles and hefted himself in to the tube. Gregson's last words to him were, "Good luck and if you're religious, start praying."

*************

The tube was quiet and it was dark. Simon gripped the phaser in his hand as he continued in to the intricate tunnels. His face was sweating and he kept wiping it away with his hand.

'Where is it? I should see it by now. It doesn't know I'm coming.' He thought. 'Or does it. If it materializes for this time every night, it would know that an ensign would be dumb enough to come for him.'

The many ghost stories he had heard around the campfire at home came back. They made their way across the stag of his mind. A chilling moan swept through the tunnel and Simon landed flat on his stomach aiming the phaser ahead of him. The sweat came down in streams now, his eyes swept the exit to an intersection up ahead.

'Did it come from ahead, behind, up, down…easy, Simon, you're loosing it. Just keep your cool.'

He started crawling forward again. He tried to keep a low profile. As he came to the exit of the tube, he pulled himself up to his knees and peered in. Four tunnels connected and one going straight up. The place was empty.

Simon pulled himself in and then he heard a shriek! The ensign looked up and saw a Star Fleet uniform and a gorgon face staring down at him with pointed red ears, fangs, and glowing eyes. His hands were red sharp claws and it had a sadistic grin on its face. The creature shrieked and jumped toward him.

The Simon screamed in terror and crawled backwards as the Devil landed in front of him. Hunched over as in agony it started coming toward him.

"Death, agony…oh, the pain!" the creature shrieked out as it gnashed it's teeth.

It lunged forward and landed on top of Simon. It clawed at his chest and tried to bite down on his neck. The security ensign wrestled with it, but couldn't seem to be able to throw it off!

'I'm going to die!' Simon thought. 'No, the Phaser!'

He had dropped it in his fear and Simon looked around for it as he tried to keep the demon away.

It was lying over by one of the struts. With an adrenaline-fueled shove, he through the spectre off of him and half ran, half crawled to the phaser. He fell on to it groping at it with his sweat soaked hands.

The patter of its feet made Simon spin around to see it coming for him again. Simon aimed the phaser at it and the thing stopped.

"Your haunting days are over!"

The beam lashed out and struck the demon in the chest and it collapsed with a gasp on the floor. Simon fell to his knees and passed out.

********

The body bumped as it was dragged down Jefferies tube B-10 and soon fresh air hit Simon's face. He tripped on the studs and fell out of the tube and on the deck hallway. Someone caught him on the way down and held him up.

"Thanks, Gregson. I got it." Simon said elated. He looked toward the Gregson's face and the Ensign's paled again.

A man with brown hair and blue eyes looked at him and Simon wilted as he saw the four pips of the Captain.

"Sir!" Simon croaked pulling himself and standing on his own feet.

"You got what, Ensign?" the Captain asked.

Osha, Gregson, and a Lieutenant Commander were there and they all looked down at the hideous creature that was just beginning to wake up.

"Call security, sir!" Simon said, but the iron grip of the captain stopped him from moving toward the Comm panel.

The captain leaned over to the creature and with a swift pull, ripped the creature's face off.

Underneath, was Ensign Mark Brady!

"What happened?" he asked groggily.

"You are in serious trouble, Mister. Report to sickbay. Now!" the captain roared and Brady jumped to his feet. He glanced at Collins guiltily and then walked off.

"I'll talk with you later, Mr. Collins." Said the Captain looking sternly at Simon, but then to the Security officer's surprise, his eyes twinkled. "But I don't think there will be to much discipline. I believe Mr. Brady got what he deserved. Dismissed!"

***********

Simon stood in his quarters with Osha entering with him. He turned to face her.

"You knew."

"What?" she asked startled.

"You knew Brady was pretending to be the devil." He said accusingly. "You wouldn't have given me a phaser set on stun if you hadn't."

"I just wanted to make sure you were alright." Osha said failing to keep from grinning.

"Liar." He said pointing at her.

She grinned. "He deserved it. He has been tormenting the new ensigns for years with that gag. I always hated it and I wanted to teach him a lesson. That was my opportunity."

"You used me to do your dirty work."

Osha laughed. "Yep. And Brady will never pull off that stunt again. I think that was a good deal."

Silence filled the room. Simon extended his hand to Osha grinning. "Good deal."

The two shook hands.

-THE END-

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