[Enterprise] Ghost in the Bathroom
Saturday 11th November 2017
Summary: Malcolm is stuck dog sitting, but Porthos has found something else for him to do.
Notes: Written for iwasanartist
Malcolm sighed. It was impossible to concentrate on reading the report on phase cannon efficiency when Porthos wouldn't stop barking. It wasn't the most thrilling reading to begin with. Leaning out a little on his bed, he glared at Porthos, for all the good that would do.
Porthos sat and whined. He was still facing the bathroom door, but at least it was a little quieter and Malcolm could return to the report. For the fourth time, he told himself this was the last time he would bet against the captain. On this occasion he'd ended up staying on Enterprise dog sitting Porthos, while everyone else got to go down to Arcturus III to be whined and dined by friendly aliens.
However, Porthos wasn't quiet for long. Two minutes later and he was up and barking again. Malcolm sighed again and threw the PADD on his bed a little harder than was warranted.
"There is nothing in the bathroom," he said through gritted teeth. It felt like the only way to convince Porthos was to show him, so Malcolm opened the door. He gasped at the sudden chill coming from inside. He felt like he'd opened the door to a walk-in freezer, not a bathroom. He wouldn't have been surprised to see icicles in the shower.
At least Porthos had stopped barking and was now lying down. Malcolm shivered as he press the control to close the door. He called Engineering and rubbed his hands as he waited for an answer. Perhaps Porthos had sensed the temperature difference in the bathroom and was barking to warn Malcolm about it.
Trip was down on Arcturus III, of course, but Kelby was in Engineering. After Malcolm explained the temperature problem in his bathroom, there was a pause at the other end. Presumably, it was while Kelby checked the systems. Malcolm only felt a little guilty for thinking that Trip would have done that faster. Or chatted while he did it.
"Everything checks out," Kelby said eventually. "We haven't had any other reports, but we'll look into it."
Which was the best Malcolm could hope for. However, no sooner had he cut the comm, did Porthos start barking again. Malcolm was about to shout at him when the lights suddenly went out. Porthos went quiet, which made it feel eerie. Malcolm told himself not to be so silly.
But the trouble with being in space was that there was no ambient light. There were in orbit around a planet, but the sun was on the other side of Enterprise. The doors all had a tight seal, in case of emergencies, so no light spilled in from the corridor. Always assuming there was still light out there, which he couldn't be sure about.
He called Engineering again, by feel, but there was no answer. Either his comm had stopped working, or communications were out throughout the ship. Right now it didn't matter which one was true. The first thing to do was to find a flashlight. He always kept one by his bed, although he hadn't needed it before now.
His bed and desk were only a few steps away, but Porthos chose that moment to stand in that space. The result was that Malcolm tripped over him and ended up face down on his bed, his nose narrowly missing smashing into his PADD.
Porthos's response was to growl, which frankly didn't help. Malcolm was appreciating him much more as an animal that wasn't often seen outside of the captain's company. He wished that was always the case and was prepared to tell the captain just how Porthos had behaved. Which might only have the effect of making Malcolm feel better, but it would be worth it just for that. Archer probably wouldn't hold a grudge.
Malcolm knocked something off the shelf - he'd find out what it was later - but found the flashlight. He shone it round the room and when its beam landed on Porthos, he started barking again. Malcolm rolled his eyes as Porthos bounded over to the bathroom door to bark at it. Again.
If he'd been anyone else's dog, Malcolm would have thrown him out into the corridor to fend for himself. But he wasn't, he was the captain's dog and Archer expected Malcolm to look after him. Lying to the captain was hard, and no doubt he'd know just how his beloved dog had been treated. He'd just have to put up with Porthos for a little while longer and hope the captain returned soon.
"I know it's cold but there's nothing in there," he said to Porthos. Once again he opened the bathroom door. At least this time he was braced for the cold. He shone the flashlight into it but he frowned as he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. It must have just been a shadow; a trick of the light caused by him not holding the flashlight steady.
Porthos, though, ran into the bathroom. Malcolm called his name, but Porthos growled and appeared to have something in his mouth.
Malcolm ventured into the bathroom cautiously. When he peered round the corner he found Porthos had his teeth clamped down on the leg of something humanoid in shape. An alien perhaps, although not one Malcolm recognized. The parts of it directly in the flashlight's beam were transparent. The parts around the edge Malcolm was only just about able to make out when he squinted. He couldn't be sure how many of the arms he could see were actually arms and not just shadows.
The alien made a noise that sounded like gurgling with wind chimes in the background. Perhaps it was speech, but Hoshi was on Arcturus III and Malcolm had no way of contacting her. Or anyone else.
Porthos, though, let the alien go, Malcolm didn't know why. But he saw the alien blur and felt a rush of a cold wind pass him, ruffling his hair and giving him goosebumps. Porthos raced across the room and barked at the door to Malcolm's quarters.
The other shape by the door might have been the alien, but it was hard to tell. It appeared to be growing and shrinking. Maybe it just changed size visibly when it was breathing. Malcolm didn't have any reference points to compare it to.
However, there was only so long he could stand in the dark, squinting and listening to Porthos's incessant barking. So he went over to open the door. The door control was so cold that Malcolm tore his finger away from it quickly, leaving a layer of skin behind. He hissed between his teeth and nearly fell over when Porthos brushed past him to run out into the dark corridor.
Malcolm followed, trying to aim the flashlight while squeezing his finger to stop it from hurting so much.
There were more shapes out here. It was hard to tell how many. Their transparency made it look like they were moving in and out of each other, but it could have been behind and in front. At this point Malcolm wouldn't rule out either option.
The aliens spoke, the wind chimes sounding different notes. If it hadn't been for the gurgling it would have been musical.
"I don't understand you," Malcolm said, frustrated, at the same time that Porthos barked, once.
A sudden blast of heat and light nearly knocked Malcolm off his feet. He held his hands up in front of his face, squeezing his eyes shut. Patterns of color danced in his vision.
When the heat faded to something more comfortable, Malcolm risked opening his eyes. He found the corridor was back to normal: lit and warm, with no aliens in sight. Porthos sat in the middle of the corridor a little way down from Malcolm. He wagged his tail, looking pleased with himself.
Malcolm wiped the sweat from his brow. Still not quite sure what had happened, he returned to his quarters, now lit up as usual. He called Engineering and found the comm was working once again
"But there was something," Malcolm persisted, when Kelby insisted the systems registered nothing out of the ordinary. "I saw it. I felt it."
"Sorry, sir," was all Kelby said.
Malcolm sighed and let him go. When Trip returned to the ship Malcolm could ask him to look at the logs. Trip would believe him. Maybe. Hopefully. Or perhaps not. Already Porthos had curled up on Malcolm's bed as if nothing had happened. There was only the throbbing pain in Malcolm's finger to prove that anything had happened at all.
If Malcolm explained what he'd seen would anyone believe him? Or would they just think he was so upset about being left on board that he'd made stories up so it would seem like he'd had a more interesting time than them?
He plopped onto his bed and concluded that no, he wouldn't tell. Aliens that went transparent in the light and flashed out of existence couldn't possibly be real, could they?
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