Again much thanks to the reviewers, the ones who favorited the story and those of you who the readers. thank you muchly.
Moving through the corridor toward Sickbay, Kirk kept one blood stained hand touching the wall to keep from tumbling to the floor. In his other hand he tightly grasped a phaser that he had retrieved from the security hold on the bridge, now tainted with blood as well.
Sweat ran down the side of his face as he continued to make his way along the hall, forcing himself not to jump at any shadow or sound that he caught. However, there was no sign of his small, malicious foe behind any of the unnerving momentary discords.
Sagging against the wall opposite the sickbay door, he absently wiped away a bead of sweat that was running down the length of his jaw. He took a second to regain control over himself and tried to beat back the gaining shadow's of anger, pain and fear.
Pushing himself away from the wall, Kirk visibly scowled in pain and discomfort when the blood soaked shirt refused to be pulled off the metal wall.
Literally tripping through the door, he caught the edge of an examination table with his free hand while casting a quick cursory glance around the room. Briefly he relaxed his grip on the phaser, when he found what he expected, absolutely no one.
Pursing his lips, he carefully took in a breath feeling a wave of chills sweep over him followed by surge of heat that sent an odd shiver through his body. Gritting his teeth again, he willed himself across the room to McCoy's cabinet of horror's and started pawing through the equipment until finding a scanner and empty hypo.
Activating the scanner he began to pass it back and forth over his chest, when he became aware of the fact that he was wrong about his initial judgment. He was far from being alone.
Hand hesitating in it's circular motion, Kirk glanced in the direction of the smaller examination room while his hand tightened around the phaser grip again.
"Who's there!" He demanded lowering the scanner and raising the phaser. "Identify yourself and come out now."
A shadow fell across the doorway and over the floor at the feet of Kirk, as he waited with held a breath that was doing little for his already aching body. Lifting his chin, he kept his gaze fixed on the door until he caught the first glimpse of the intruder and nearly dropped both phaser and scanner.
With the same pallid, devoid mask that had been on his face when Kirk had caught him when he toppled off the transporter pad, Jackson stood in the doorway surveying the room with a blank stare.
The prickling of coldness began creeping along every nerve ending that Kirk possessed when the unexpressive dark stare finally fell on him.
He knew in his own reasonably sane mind that the man was dead. He had been there when McCoy had made the diagnose in the transporter room. He had felt the cold stiffness of death when he caught the man when he nearly toppled over on both he and the Doctor. He knew without a moment of uncertainty that the man standing in front of him was without an ounce of life left in his body or soul.
Yet, after all he had witnessed in the last few days, not to mention the last half hour, he wasn't about to cast dispersion's on the infinite possibilities that could occur. Including the dead walking again.
Fingers twitching along the trigger of the phaser, Kirk took a slow step backwards trying to grapple with what was happening to him. None of this made any sense to him, more in the way of how it could be accomplished let alone why.
As if on cue, there was a quiet smirking growl as the cat abruptly leapt up on to Jackson's shoulder, glared at the Captain with a slits of mockery while her tail lashed with excitement.
Eyes fixed on the animal, Kirk nearly failed to notice that the zombie figure of Jackson had taken a step in his direction. Backpedaling another two steps, he raised the phaser and fired.
Letting out a yelp, the Captain dropped the suddenly burning phaser then stared at the bright read and peeling skin of his palm then up at the approaching Jackson.
The cat baring it's teeth in what could only be called a feline version of a fiendishly delighted smile, still perched on the dead man's shoulder.
Pushing the pain that was steadily consuming him, to the back of his mind momentarily, Kirk took another step backwards and tossed the scanner at the gloating feline. Having little time to enjoy the snarl of anguish from the spitting cat, he grabbed the back edge of the cabinet and heaved with every ounce he had left sending it to the floor between him and the walking dead.
Caring little to stick around he dived out the sickbay door and made a quick retreat down the corridor wanting to make it back to the lift before any other nasty surprise came out of nowhere.
Falling through the opening door's of the lift, he gasped for air. Face twisting up at the flare up's of excruciating torture along his back while giving his throbbing hand a quick squint.
The skin had burnt away leaving black edge around the vulnerable raw meat of his hand, that had the stomach turning stench of eradicated hamburger. Trying to flex his hand he anxiously watched his digits, feeling the lift begin to rise as he released a tiny sigh if relief at the wiggling fingers. Watching his fingers slowly dance individually, Kirk almost smiled then froze when he noticed what beyond those appendages.
Looking up from his spot on the lift floor, Kirk felt himself go pale and turn even colder at the sight of the grinning skeletons that were looking down at him from their posts along the wall.
They dangled from heavy manacles bolted to the lift walls, dressed in the all too familiar blue and black uniform of the science department, empty sockets fixed on the human sitting in their midst. A mixed reaction on their fleshless skulls, of sick humor, anguish and condemnation toward the man that had put them there.
Pushing himself up along the wall, Kirk tried not to let it register that he recognized the rank on both the blue uniform shirts that hung from the bare bones. If he had it might have been the end of what ever shred of sanity he was making himself cling to until finding some rationality in all of this.
Running a slightly shaking hand through this hair, Kirk was never so grateful for the lift door's to hiss open as he was then. Caring little what level he was at he charged out of the lift and down the corridor, going several yards before he realized that he was back where he had started from. Only a few feet from his own quarters.
Cradling his wounded handed against his chest, he entered his cabin glad to be in the one spot that had seemed to be a sanctuary for him. A thought that quickly evaporated into a dark flame of lost fate.
The entire space was filled with cobwebs and a fog that had the smell of decay to it that crept into Kirk's nostril's and throat sending him to a spasm of coughs. At intervals he thought he could just catch the tail end of a familiar fragrance that he had once been willingly enticed by years ago but was swiftly enveloped into the stench of rotting flesh.
Gagging on the taste that clung to this mouth and throat, he whirled about to depart the horrid scene only to find he was lost in the dense cloak that was moving quicker about him.
Covering his mouth and nose with his free arm, he squinted through the fog, trying to find anything that was distinguishable. Cautiously he moved in the direction of the worktable, feeling a cape of darkness fall over him.
Half turning he strained to peer through the smothering fog until the unmistakable glint of golden orbs broke through.
Seconds before it was on him, Kirk was almost disappointed at the fleeting scenes that passed in front of his eyes at what was the last thoughts of his life.
In a final heartbeat, he could only watch as the black panther melted together from the fog as it came down upon him before the rest of his thoughts were encompassed by the death that had been tracking him for so long.
If he had been asked, Kirk would never be able to give an answer to the question if he had or hadn't screamed out loud when he sat straight up in bed, fending off the nightmare creature as it pounced. Either way he could cared about, knowing that it all had been a frightening dream. A too realistic terrifying dream, he added wiping at the cold sweat that covered his face.
Ordering the lights on, he sat on the edge of his bed rubbing his tired eyes with the heels of his hand's trying to wipe away the ugly pictures that remained running through his head. He knew it would be pointless for sometime, just as he knew there was no chance he could get back to sleep right away.
Still sitting on the edge of his bed, he jumped at the sound of the door chimes and scowled in their direction before shooting a look at the chronometer on the worktable.
"Come." He called after letting his heart return to normal action and running a hand over his face.
McCoy stood in the doorway, looking wane and agitated. "Hope you don't mind some company for a few minutes. Just couldn't sleep."
Looking up at the Doctor, Kirk almost smiled and then thought better of it when recalling his own episode.
"Black cat?" He quietly asked as he rose to his feet and gestured toward one of the chairs around the worktable.
Looking faintly relieved as he stepped into the cabin, McCoy nodded. "Biggest damn black cat I've ever laid eye on."
Kirk could only murmur in acknowledgement as he pulled out the second chair after pulling a deck of playing cards from a hidden cubby hole next to his computer.
"Spot me the usual?" McCoy nearly grinned as he made himself comfortable on the opposite side of the table.
Sitting down, Kirk raised an eyebrow in McCoy's direction but gave a single nod before he started shuffling the cards.
"You know, you would think Spock would have the decency to at least act like he had the same trouble." Muttered Bones as he sorted through the cards in his hand then jerked a thumb at the wall that separated them from the Vulcan's cabin. "Show a little camaraderie here for the only two who put up with him and his lack of everything that I can't think of at this time of the night."
A smile managed to appearing on Kirk's face as he organized his own cards. "You know Spock. It's his way not to say anything, knowing it's not something we want to go into. You seriously don't want to discuss what you had running around in your dream with him, do you?"
There was an uncomfortable pause from the Doctor before he snorted quietly. "Well, the big, green-blooded sleeping pill, could 'accidentally' show up."
"The night is still young, Bones." Kirk chuckled as he laid the handful of cards down on the table. "Gin."
Both men froze in their movements when the blood curdling scream that emitted from the other side of the wall shattered the quiet. While the soul wrenching fear the two men been attempting to escape was cemented in place, when the horrified cry was drowned out by a delighted shriek of a cat.