865: Stepping Over Someone’s Grave

by *Keiran O’Sullivan
After Ship’s Ahoy

-=USS Zenith=-

He stood at the beginning of yet another long, winding corridor on a deck of the Zenith.

The ship really was almost comically large. What it had in size and power, it lacked in charm and intimacy.

When they had beamed aboard, Salvek had dispatched the security teams immediately to begin a room by room survey of the ship that may yield clues not present in an obvious place such as Sickbay, Engineering, or the ship’s logs. Besides the bridge, there were twenty-eight other decks to search.

Keiran had indulged himself the luxury, as team lead, of accepting Dwan Tubman as his partner to search. They began with the crew quarters on deck two, and in their initial sweep had already made it down to deck four within the first hour.

There was nothing much to see really. Room after room of empty quarters and perfectly normal tricorder readings. Normal, except for the fact that Tubman was the only life form other than himself that Keiran had detected anywhere so far.

“You take the left, I’ll take the right this time,” Keiran offered, hoping perhaps a change in their search tactics might afford them better luck this time around.

“Yes sir,” Tubman replied, exactly as he did to every order.

Dwan disappeared into the first room, and Keiran opened the door on his right. He stuck his head in, waved the tricorder around, and saw nothing out of the ordinary with his eyes or scanner.

“Not’a’thin’,” he shook his head at Tubman. They moved to the next rooms, and Keiran opened the door. This time he picked up a life form. He looked into the room, and then up to the top of a tall tower, atop which sat perched a small cat.

“Row?” The Calico cat asked with a quizzical expression, before dashing down its perch and under the bed in the room.

“What‘ave we ‘ere, eh?” Keiran asked. “Come on out now, little friend.” He coaxed, getting down onto his knees and looking under the bed.

The cat was having none of it.

“Ya must be hungry,” Keiran stood back up and found the cat’s dry food and water bowl, both of which were completely empty. “What will ya eat though?” He thought out loud. “Computer, access the logs for this terminal, and replicate me the last feline supplement that was ordered.”

The computer chirped and a bowl full of wet food was formed before him. He set the bowl down, cleared away the empty dry food and water bowls, and replaced each of them fresh full bowls. Keiran was careful to arrange the bowls exactly as they had been when he was arrived, lest the feline refuse to eat because everything was not “just so.”

Crossing the room, he leaned against the wall by the entrance waiting for the cat to emerge and take its meal. After several moments there was not a motion from under the bed, despite the fact the aroma of the fishy concoction had long since filled the room, much to the dismay of Keiran’s stomach.

“Yer not comin’ out till I leave, are ya?”

He made a quick note of the room number on his tricorder, to make sure if the Zenith crew was not found quickly, the someone would be back tomorrow to check on the cat, and relocate it to the Sera if necessary. Keiran spun towards the door, which hissed open for him, and stepped back outside. As the doors snapped shut, he was just barely able to make out orange, black and white streak zipping out from under the bed towards the food bowl.

“Let’s find yer ma, yeah?” He said to the closed door, before moving on to the next room. Tubman was already a few doors ahead, as Keiran had paused to feed the cat.

He entered the next room, and again there was no sign of life to be found. These quarters were not neat and tidy however, as an officer would have left them while they were on duty. There was a table with dishes strewn about, and the computer was playing soft romantic classical music, probably on a loop. Keiran ordered the computer to cease the playback, and approached the table. It was as if it were a snapshot frozen in time.

The table was set for two, with a red tablecloth on the bottom, and a white one laid over it, rotated one half turn in relation to the red cloth, so that the corners fell directly between the corners of the red cloth. Atop the table was a single rose surrounded by Baby’s Breath that had slightly wilted and was drooping over.

There were carefully prepared meals on each plate. Steak, baked potatoes and green beans, all neatly garnished. It was probably a lovely meal at the time Keiran assumed, though by the time he found it, the food had long since gone stone cold and was well spoiled.

There was a fork on the floor with a piece of meat on it. Keiran judged from its position, and the brown stain on the white chair, that whoever had been about to eat this morsel of food had simply vanished as the fork approached his or her lips.

Each plate was about half eaten, and the candles that had adorned the table had long since burned all the way down to the puddles of purple wax that now covered most of the table between the two plates.

Indeed this was a romantic evening that had been cut short. He knelt down to retrieve the fork, and saw something tucked up into the supports beneath the chair.

“Oh no,” He sighed, heartbroken. He pulled the small velvet box out from its perch and lifted the lid, revealing a stunning diamond engagement ring. Keiran could have sworn the temperature in the room dropped twenty degrees suddenly, and he had the overwhelming sense he had just walked over someone else’s grave.

Somewhere there was a woman not wearing a ring that was intended for her, and a man who’s perfectly planned evening, designed to end with the most joyous moment of his life so far, had ended far too soon.

He closed the box, set it down on the table, and stepped back from the table, twisting his own ring once again. Keiran knew all too well the agony one felt when one knew a ring was not on the finger of the person it belonged to. Liis knew it well too, from the paradox she had experienced as well. It was a feeling of pain he had just always assumed would be there, after so many years and realities.

Keiran was only just beginning to become accustomed to the idea that Zanh Liis would always wear his ring, but the agony of seeing the ring apart form her was still fresh in his mind.

His eyes remained fixed on the ring box on the table as he continued to back slowly away from the table, as if it were a bomb that would be set off if he moved too quickly. The feeling in him, as he clutched his own ring, and reassured himself that it was there and Liis was nearby, was something akin to survivor’s guilt as he heart ached for whomever owned that ring, and who he intended to give it to.

He wondered why Fate had decided now that he should be the one to be with his love, while these people were to be denied their lives together.

Keiran was jolted suddenly, as he bumped into something solid. He spun and looked into the eyes of Dwan Tubman.

“Are you all right, Commander? You were in there several minutes. I came back to look for you.”

“Yeah, am fine, thank ya Dwan,” Keiran said, holstering his tricorder. He heard the door close behind him, and tried to push down the images he had seen moments before.

“Anything in there worth seeing?” Dwan asked.

“Nothin',” Keiran said, shaking his head. “Let’s...just move along to the next one.”

*Keiran O’Sullivan
Security Liaison for
The Alchemy Project
USS Serendipity NCC-2012