This is actually my very first Voyage story. Itís not hard to figure which character I identify most with. LOL.
Lieutenant Commander Charles Philip "Chip" Morton, executive officer of the S.S.R.N. Seaview, the most powerful vessel above or below the seven seas, second-in-command under Commander Lee B. Crane, lay in his bunk dying. A small groan escaped him as he tried to make himself more comfortable. It was a useless exercise. His muscles ached and his head was pounding. It hurt to even open his eyes so he didnít bother, simply content for the moment to lie in the darkness of his cabin and wait for the end.
What is wrong with me? He thought and a chill coursed up his spine, leaving behind a lingering cold where only a few moments before he had been burning up. His chest hurt, sore with the effort of trying to breathe. The last thing he remembered before turning in was dinner last night. Nothing different, just roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green French cut beans, and Cookieís special rolls. Had he been poisoned? By whom? Aliens? That mummy thing that possessed Lee that time? Are there any scientists aboard? Had some mad experiment gone wrong?
Chip pulled the bed covers up over his head and cold chills ran down his body once more. Suddenly he was burning up and he had to throw the covers off to find some relief. Face it, pal. You need help. Chip thought and slowly, painfully he pulled himself up out of his bunk, swinging his legs over the edge. He rested his bare feet flatfooted on the cold deck. The last place he wanted to be was in Sickbay but he couldnít just lay here and let whatever it was take over. What if there were others, what if Lee had it, or the Admiral? They needed him. The crew needed him! He was shivering again and the cold of the floor against his bare feet was not helping.
He managed to get his frozen feet into a pair of blue slippers he kept and dragged on his favorite blue flannel robe. He was dizzy again, leaning against the bulkhead, feeling his stomach churn in protest of moving. Chip had just enough time to stagger over to the head before throwing up everything he had eaten in the last twenty-four hours. When he was done he found himself on his knees, damp with sweat and shaking uncontrollably. He was absolutely exhausted, with barely the strength to push back and lean against the bulkhead. He was hot again, running a hand though his sweat-dampened blond hair. Chip laid his head against the bulkhead, letting the cool metal take the edge off the raging fever. He could hear and feel the rattle in his lungs as he breathed. He had images of a book he had read a while back, about a mutant virus that had gotten loose and killed the worldís population.
Come on pal. You donít want to die on the floor. You need help remember. Jamie can help you. Jamie can help . . . Reaching up, Chip managed to grab the towel rack and pulled himself to his feet. He swayed, fighting the dizziness, the nausea, the pain in his chest and the pounding behind his eyes. He managed one step, then another. Another. Closer to the door, closer to Sickbay, closer to help. He had to get to Sickbay, he had to know how many others were affected. Was he the only one? Had there been any other causalities yet? Duty pushed him on when all he really wanted to was collapse in his bunk and never move.
The knob of his cabin door slowly twisted and the door opened, a sliver of light falling on the dark cabin floor. Chip braced himself against the desk, waiting for the alien, the monster, the mad scientist to come and gloat over his impending victory. Isnít that what they always did?
Lee Crane pushed the cabin door open all the way, and was greeted by a dark cabin and the pale, almost ghostly figure standing by the desk.
"Chip? Buddy, are you OK?" Lee asked. Chip was late for his watch and Lee had come up to check on him personally. One look at his best friend told Lee that Chip was infected. It had already claimed half the crew. No one knew where it had come from and as everybody knew, there was no cure.
"Lee . . . " That was all Chip had the strength for. His knees buckled, his eyes rolled up into the back of his head and the world went dark. Crane surged forward just in time to catch his XO before Chip connected with the deck. Lee managed to get an arm around his friend, holding him close, pillowing Chipís head on his shoulder while Lee fumbled for the phone.
"Jamie, Chipís got it."
"Well?" Lee demanded, arms folded over his chest and leaning against the desk as Jamie made a few final notes in the clipboard. On the bottom most bunk, the blond officer slept with a little encouragement from the IV hanging above Chipís bunk.
"Just like the others, Skipper. Somebody brought a nasty flu bug on board and now your XO is itís next victim. Nothing we can do now but make sure heís hydrated and quiet."
Lee let his gaze settle on Morton. Leave it to Chip, he thought. Possessed by aliens, attacked by mutant plankton, sidelined by malfunctioning equipment, somehow he and Chip were always able to bounce back from whatever the world threw at them and now the man whom Lee had seldom even seen with a cold had the flu! The FLU! Chuckling to himself Lee focused back on Jamie. "Youíll keep me updated?"
"You know I will. Now. You. Cabin. Bunk. Sleep. That is an order Skipper. Youíve already been in contact with one possibly contagious man. I so much as hear a sniffle out of you, so help me, Iíll quarantine you to your quarters until this bug runs its course. Do I make myself clear?" Jamie ordered, the hint of a smile tugging at his mouth.
"Crystal. Iím gone. You never even saw me." Lee made his escape out the door, down the corridor. Jamie just barely heard his CO still chuckling, "The flu! Wait till I tell the admiral!"