The digital clock reading the hour had been covered over with a bundled up shirt, the numbers buried to keep the green glow from disturbing the room. Without the display it was pitch black and the silence was all pervasive but for the soft in and out of a sleeper on the bed and the occasional rustle of sheets as they shifted amid the tangle of fabric. It was a good sleep too, deep and dreamless. There were several more hours before Chief Engineer Gabriel Collins had to be out of bed and La Forge knew he needed all the sleep he could get. It was not to last however, as a knock on the door shattered the blissful quiet.
Gabriel wasn’t known for being a quick riser and, combined with his fatigue as of late, he was pulled very unwillingly out of his slumber. He moved, a foot disrupting something he’d left there and causing it to fall with a clatter to the floor which elicited a groan and then finally prompting him to lift his head. He didn’t know who was out there, it wasn’t like he got a lot of visitors, but he was not waking up to be a very happy person. The knock came again and he slowly pulled himself up. Damn whoever it was… “Just a minute!”
He somehow managed to extricate himself from his sheets, groping for his glasses on the nightstand though he didn’t bother to turn the table light on; he’d learned to get around his quarters in the dark and it took him only a few moments to find his way into his tiny bathroom, refusing to answer the door until he’d checked to make sure he didn’t look like hell first; he had that much vanity anyway. He flicked the light on, blinking owlishly in the sudden glow. Laying his glasses down on the slip of counter he turned the faucet and splashed a handful of cold water on his face to chase the rest of his sleep away then buried his face in a hand towel for a few long moments. As he did so the knock sounded again from outside and he seriously considered just telling whoever it was to go away, though anyone that persistent made him think it must be urgent; why they hadn’t just called him through his comm was a mystery he couldn’t be bothered to figure out at the moment. He laid the towel down and slipped his glasses on, the sink coming into sharp focus and then he straightened up to check himself in the mirror. He did look like hell. Fantastic.
A subtle motion behind him drew his eyes away from his face and just slightly to the right. There was a second figure reflected in the glass, a face half hidden by the frame of the door though he realized, to his horror, that he didn’t need to see the entire thing to know who it was. Even in the light the figure was pale the flesh a dull grayish-green, not white, the color extending even to the lips. The eyes were dark rimmed and clouded, and milky eyes stared blankly at the engineer from sunken sockets. The hair was short and dark but as the figure started to move, to shift far to slowly to the left, it revealed the shattered forehead and hair matted with dried black blood around the hole.
Gabriel was paralyzed, his mind frozen in terror and a stab of guilt twisted his insides so sharply he was almost sick from that alone. The silence was deafening now, the knocking had stopped, and he knew he was all alone with this thing forever and ever and ever. If he was lucky it would end him quickly but he knew it wouldn’t be that easy, it would never let him go. Never never never.
He didn’t move for nearly a full minute but as Henry Fieldman lifted his arm and reached out his hand and those dead fingers touched his neck Gabriel Collins let out a scream filled with the sheer mind numbing horror of it all. He kept screaming as the fingers slid across his flesh and slowly closed around his throat…
And he fell.
Pain. That was the first thing his mind registered, a dull aching in his neck that worked it’s way down his back and a raw soreness in his throat that made it hurt to swallow. Second was the darkness now surrounding him that he found somewhat unnerving. Third was the sound of someone pounding on his door outside, calling his name. It took him far to long just to process that.
Gabriel Collins had spent the last minute screaming in his sleep, tossing so violently he’d taken himself and the sheets to the floor, a fact he discovered as his hand bumped the side of the mattress in the dark. He hurt, his breathing was labored, and his skin was covered with a clammy sweat. As he lay there the lingering terror of a dead face swam in his memories… He yanked his mind away from the dream as hard and as quickly as possible, focusing on the door. There was someone out there, he wasn’t alone. “J-just a minute!” His voice sounded more like a croak and he turned himself over, somehow kicking free of the sheets that wound his body. Instinctively he reached for his glasses but he’d fallen on the wrong side of the bed from where he kept them and he was to afraid to linger in the dark long enough to get them.
He nearly ran to the door, not caring at the moment he was in his sleep clothes and that he must look like he’d come out of hell. The door was pulled open sharply, the light from the hallway blinding him and he lifted a hand to shield his eyes. “Who is it? Who’s there?”