A WALK THROUGH THE SHADOWS By: M. C. Pehrson
Insistent chiming dragged Kirk from an erotic, brandy-laced dream. No deadly urgency in the nagging sound, no intercom whistle or whooping alert siren-shipboard noises that always brought him wide awake, heart pumping adrenaline. Even half asleep, Kirk sensed the planetary stillness and pulled the covers over his head.
The chiming continued. With a bearish growl, he tossed back the blankets, stumbled to the bedroom door, and opened it. Chatter from a 24-hour video link mingled crazily with the phone. Squinting into the brightly lit living area, he hollered, "Bones!"
There was no reply.
Kirk shut off the video and grumbled his way to the phone. Out of habit he leaned over and reached for the view button, but realizing that he was clad only in underclothes, hit audio instead.
"Yes, who is it?" he snapped. Slow static-like waves of sound hissed from the speaker. Someone breathing? Thoroughly annoyed, he demanded, "Who's there?"
Somewhere distant, a throat cleared. "Admiral," came the faint but oh-so-familiar voice.
"Spock?" Kirk was instantly alert. Why would his second-in-command be using a ground line? Why wasn't he aboard ship? "Mister Spock, where are you?"
More silence. Then, "Shir...sir...I have been...unexpectedly dechained. I meant to say...detained."
"Detained where? Spock, I left you in command."
"Jim, I..." Spock's words were so faint that Kirk bent closer to the phone. "I...am in Wrigley's port dishtrict. In...jail."
Kirk sank into the phone chair and activated video. He scarcely recognized the man who appeared on the small screen. Spock's left eye was badly swollen, as ugly a shiner as Kirk had ever seen. Green blood seeped from a split at the left corner of Spock's fiercely controlled mouth. Kirk stared with disbelief at the rumpled Vulcan bangs and the downcast but uninjured right eye.
"What the blazes," spoke another familiar someone standing directly behind Kirk.
He whirled as Doctor McCoy's hand met his shoulder. "Bones, where have you...?" Then he saw the green-skinned, scantily clad female settling into a nearby chair with typical Orion languor. "So that's where you've been," he muttered lamely.
Turning back to the comset, he found the screen going dark.
"Your time is up," announced a polite computer voice. "For additional service, please insert another token."
As Kirk's image faded from the screen, Spock reached for a pocket and found none. His hand fumbled over rum-soaked fabric, aggravating the deep ache in his right side. He vaguely remembered being kicked.
"C'mon Dad," ordered his boyish police escort.
Spock made no attempt to analyze the remark. Just walking in a fairly straight line demanded all his concentration as they moved past the admittance desk, to a corridor of dreary cells, mostly occupied.
An authoritative voice called after them, "Put that Vulcan in the transient section!"
This necessitated a turn into yet another corridor, where they passed by a cell crowded with rough-looking humanoids. The sight of Spock's disheveled Starfleet uniform drew a flurry of catcalls and rude comments. A gloating Belsarian rose to his full, impressive height and pushed aside his weaker cellmates for a closer look at Spock.
"C'mere, little buddy," he rumbled. "I'm not done with you yet." His hairy arm thrust toward Spock and was promptly stung by an invisible security field. The Belsarian howled with pain.
"There you go," said the policeman, indicating a blessedly empty cell further down the corridor.
Spock weaved into the assigned space. He looked at the stained bunk, at the dirty toilet bowl, and the stench of excrement and stale sweat threatened his unsettled stomach. As the guard activated a force field, a wave of dizziness sank Spock to the cold cement floor. He drew up his knees against his chest and nearly gagged on the added odor of his liquor-drenched uniform. Orion pirate's rum, as black as the L-langa Mountains near his childhood home.
A stream of peculiar impressions teased through his thoughts-frost-beaded goblets, pulsing music, painted women. A red-haired dancer, naked flesh pale as moonlight. And her name...her name. It somehow eluded him. After a time he surrendered to the intoxicating effects of the alcohol and lay flat on his back, letting his thoughts drift free of the prison cell, far from this dark, miserably place, high above a pleasant beach washed by lavender waves...
A firm voice roused him. Flooded with unreasoning shame, he whimpered and curled onto his side.
The peculiar name sent a chill straight through him. But as he huddled on the damp, rough floor, something shifted in his mind. "Jim?" he asked, not daring to look.
Shoes scraped over the cement. Two pairs of blue slip-ons came into view. A Starfleet officer knelt beside him, waving a pocket medscanner. After a moment, the man grunted. "I don't believe it. Drunk as a skunk."
"Looks like he picked the sleaziest hole in Port District." Looking only mildly amused, Admiral Kirk grabbed Spock under the armpits and muscled him upright.
"Whew!" McCoy sniffed as he helped steady him. "Did he drink it or wear it?"
The mildewed jailhouse walls began to pitch dangerously, and Spock realized there was no controlling the urge this time. He was going to throw up.