NIMR Reports is a Fan Fiction Magazine on the World Wide Web for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea starring Richard Basehart and David Hedison


THE RELIC

by Carla Keehn

 

The man on the examination table groaned as the ship's Doctor cut away the blood soaked uniform. His eyes flickered frantically around the room. I have to warn them before it's too late . . . before he destroys us all . . .

Commander Chip Morton stepped forward and put a hand out to steady the injured man. "Just take it easy, Lee." He turned to the Doctor. "How is he, Doc?"

"He's lost a lot of blood, but it looks like a clean wound. The bullet went through," the Doctor replied as he worked.

"I have to ask him some questions. We still don't know what happened."

"Not now, Commander. Maybe later, when he's stronger."

"I'm sorry, Doc, but this can't wait." The Seaview's Executive Officer bent over the table. "Lee, who did this? Can you tell me what happened?"

"The Admiral . . . attacked me." Crane's voice was hoarse and strained. "I saw him sabotage--" a spasm of pain wracked the Captain's body "--the Master Panel in the Circuitry Room . . ."

"The Admiral!" Morton glanced uneasily at the Doctor. "Lee, are you sure?"

"Easy, Skipper." The Doctor eased Crane back against the pillow.

The Captain made a weak attempt to push the Doctor away. "No! I've got to stop him!"

****

At the same time, in the Admiral's quarters, a dazed man stumbled over to the desk.

The voice inside his head was relentlessly tormenting him. Evil shall devour you . . . devour you . . . devour you . . . "No!" He pounded his fist on the desk. "No!"

Nelson felt sickened at the sight of the blood smeared on his outstretched hands. A low sound of pain escaped from his lips.

Slowly he straightened. The Admiral stared sightlessly into the darkness, trying to make sense of the jumbled images that assailed his fatigued mind. He glanced down at the gun that was lying on the desk. I . . . I was in the Circuitry Room. But why, why?

Nelson rubbed his throbbing temples as the scene unfolded before his mind's eye. I . . . I had the gun in my hand . . . Lee! Lee came in . . .

 

"Admiral!" Crane's concerned voice did little to pierce the cold mist numbing the Admiral's mind. "Admiral! What's happened to you?" Nelson leveled the gun at Crane. "Admiral . . . whatever it is, we can fight it." The Captain held out his hand. "Give me the gun." He took a step towards Nelson. "Give me the gun . . ." Nelson squeezed the trigger. Surprised, Crane stiffened for moment, then gasped as the pain forced him to his knees. "Admiral . . ." Ignoring the injured man, the Admiral gave the wiring on the panel in front of him a final pull. A shower of sparks sprayed across the room. Nelson moved quickly towards the door. For an instant he paused, then bent over the Captain's semi-conscious form. "Lee!" Nelson exclaimed as he tried to stop the blood that seeped from the wound in Crane's shoulder. Suddenly, the Admiral stopped. He moaned and put his hands to his head. The voice pounded inside him. The evil shall devour you . . . devour you . . . He fled the Circuitry Room.

 

Now, in his dimly lit quarters, the Admiral shook his head, trying to dispel the painful memory from his mind. He looked down again at the blood on his trembling hands. Lee's blood . . . What have I done . . . Dear God, what have I done?

****

Meanwhile, in Sick Bay, the ship's Doctor defiantly positioned himself in front of Crane.

"You're not going anywhere, Captain! Not in the condition you're in."

"Doc is right, Lee. You belong in Sick Bay."

The injured man struggled without success. "Listen to me!" His strength spent, the Captain slumped back against the pillow. "Listen to me . . ." Crane murmured as he ran a shaky hand over his face. "We can't just wait . . . and do nothing . . . something happened to the Admiral . . . while he was investigating that shipwreck, something that's affected his mind."

"What could have happened? The diving party came back empty handed." Frustrated, Morton paced back and forth.

"No, Chip," Crane said quietly, "after Kowalski brought Patterson back to the ship, the . . . Admiral finished the investigation alone, remember?"

"You might be on to something, Skipper," Doc said. He walked over to the desk and picked up one of the charts.

The Doctor watched silently as the Exec quickly scanned the sheets of paper on the clipboard. "What is this shock that you mention?"

"I've never seen a case like it before. For lack of a better explanation, it appears that Patterson suffered some form of temporary nervous collapse," Doc explained. "Other than remembering a momentary feeling of intense pressure in his head, he has no definite memory of anything happening after leaving the ship."

"So whatever got to Patterson has affected the Admiral, too." Morton handed the chart back to the Doctor and turned to Crane. "I'll tell the Chief to get the missiles loaded into the tubes -- we'll blast that thing out of the water."

"Belay that, Chip." Crane twisted uncomfortably on the examination table. "A force powerful enough . . . to reach out and take over a man's mind is not going to wait around . . . to be blasted into atoms."

"I think that's enough, Captain -- you need to rest." The Doctor forcefully restrained his patient against the examination table.

Crane struggled again against the Doctor's hold, then grew still, trying to calm his labored breathing. "No time to rest . . . Whatever this . . . this force is, it must be here on Seaview, controlling the Admiral . . . I've got to talk to him . . . I've got to find some way to reach him . . ."

****

Meanwhile, the Admiral paced around his cabin like a caged animal as fragments of his memory continued to surface in his mind. The shipwreck . . . why can't I remember anything after investigating that shipwreck . . .

Three days before . . .

        Seaview was resting at dead stop above the decaying hulk
        of an iron ship. The Admiral personally led a diving team to
        investigate the archeological potential of the wreck. With
        Kowalski and Patterson swimming in his wake, Nelson surveyed the
	site.

        "Nelson to Seaview."

        "Go ahead, Admiral," Crane said.

        "Lee, we're ready to enter the hull now. Standby."

        "Aye, sir. Standing by."

        Nelson felt Kowalski tap him on the shoulder, drawing his
        attention away from the damaged hull. "Admiral, look!"

        The Admiral turned and saw Patterson floating towards them,
        motionless, with his hands covering his head. Nelson and Kowalski
        quickly swam over to the injured diver.

        "Patterson!"

        The sailor stared at Nelson through glazed eyes.

        "All his gear looks okay," Kowalski said. "What do you think
        happened to him, sir?"

        "I don't know. You'd better take him back to the ship, get him
        to Sick Bay. I'll go on ahead and finish the investigation."

        "And leave you out here alone, sir? That's against regulations."

        "Don't argue with me, Kowalski! Get moving!"

        "Aye, sir."

        "Seaview, this is Nelson. Lee, Kowalski is bringing
        Patterson back to the ship. See to it Patterson gets to Sick
        Bay right away."

        "Aye, sir," Crane replied. "Stand by, I'll send out another
	diver. ""

        "That's not necessary, Lee. I'm going on ahead. I'll contact
        you again in ten minutes. Nelson out."

        The Liberty ship, split in two at the ship's mid-section,
        loomed out of the darkness. To Nelson, it seemed a tragic
        end for a ship that had served in WW II, and some twenty
        years beyond. The faint beam from his light cast an eerie
        shadow on the thick layers of marine growth that were
        encrusted on the debris.

        The Admiral darted in through the split to examine the remains
        of the vessel. Fire and corrosion had destroyed most of the
        Bridge. He paused to take a closer look at some of the equipment.
        That's odd. Much of this looks like it was smashed . . . 
        In the Engine Room, the fire had been at its worst. The Admiral
        stopped to examine the seacocks; the valves were clearly
        jammed in an open position, which had allowed seawater to flood
        into the ship. The equipment smashed, the engines destroyed?
        And those valves . . . Someone wanted this ship to go down in a
        hurry, but why? Why would the Captain deliberately sink
        his own ship? 

        He continued on to the cargo hold, which was empty except for
        the fish and other ocean creatures that were using the wreck
        for shelter. The mysteries of this ship will have to wait
        for one of Seaview's next cruises. It's time I was
        heading back. I'm past the ten-minute deadline I gave Lee.
        Nelson turned and began swimming towards the bow.

        Near the point where he had entered the ship, the Admiral
        thought he saw a flash of light under a mass of corroding
        metal and marine growth. Mesmerized, he moved slowly towards
        it. Suddenly, the Admiral jerked backwards. The auric glow
        exploded outward,  robbing him of his vision. As if motivated
        by a malignant force, the light seemed to sear into his very
	brain.
       
        "No!" Nelson gasped as the burning pain enveloped his mind in
        its crushing grip.

        Through his suffering, he heard the distant sound of Crane's
        voice demanding that Nelson check in. Summoning the last of
        his strength, he swam wearily back to Seaview. And
        then . . . nothing . . . Nothing except hazy memories that
        reached out of  the darkness to taunt him. He vaguely
        remembered snapping viciously at Crane for some minor
        infraction. Then Nelson returned to his cabin, hoping his
        display of temper would put some distance between him and
	the Captain.

        Instinctively, he knew that his friend was in danger, but
        from  what?

 

The Admiral clutched his head in agony as a sound outside the cabin door interrupted his thoughts. Nelson cast a desperate glance at the gun still on the desk. There's still time to make them understand . . . I have to destroy Seaview . . . I must!

****

In Sick Bay, the Doctor watched silently as Chip Morton helped the patient sit up. "You're playing a very dangerous game, Captain. Killing yourself won't help the Admiral, or anyone else for that matter."

Crane tried to focus on the two men through the wall of fatigue and pain that he felt closing in around him. "We've already been over this, Doc. There isn't any other way."

Doc shook his head and sighed as he finished adjusting the sling to fit Crane's neck.

"Take it slow, Skipper," he warned. "And try not to use that arm."

The Captain ignored the Doctor and stood up unsteadily. "Chip, are the guards posted yet?"

"Yes, sir. Security details are stationed at all vital areas of the ship -- just as you ordered."

"I want the Admiral taken alive, if at all possible."

"The men have their instructions." Morton hesitated, knowing that Crane wouldn't be very receptive to what he had to say next. "Lee . . . the shoot to kill order . . . why not have the men arm themselves with tranquilizing darts instead?"

"Too risky," Crane said, running his hand across his forehead. "Chip, I don't like this any more than you do -- but until we find a way to stop the Admiral, every man on board is in danger. I'm responsible for the lives of everyone on this ship -- the shoot to kill order has to stand."

"Aye, sir," Morton said.

"What about the Chief and Kowalski?"

"They're meeting us outside the Admiral's cabin."

"Good," Crane said, moving slowly towards the door. "Let's go."

****

I remember now, Nelson thought. The scientist inside of him examined the object on the desk in front of him with fascination. The dark blue stone, with it splashes of red and green colors, was mounted in a ornate gold stand. How beautiful it looks, the Admiral thought with irony, as it sits there, mocking me . . . mocking my struggle to break free from the terrible hold it has over me . . .

The Admiral nervously glanced at the door; the sounds outside his cabin were increasing. There isn't much time . . . I've got to destroy it now! He reached out and grasped it. As he touched the stone, Nelson cried out as his body convulsed; the pain spread through him like fire. Then he slumped back in the chair. The colors in the relic began to pulsate and twinkle in front of him, dulling his senses . . . seizing his mind.

The Admiral picked up the gun and turned expectantly towards the door. There's no escape . . . for any of us . . .

****

In the corridor, Lee Crane pointed towards the door to the Admiral's cabin. "Chief, you're sure he's still in there?"

"Positive, Skipper! There hasn't been a peep out of him since that business in the Circuitry Room." Chief Sharkey shook his head vigorously. " I don't like it, Skipper! You going in there . . . the Admiral acting crazy . . ."

"He's right, Lee," Morton said.

Crane replied tersely, trying to ignore the intense pain in his shoulder: "Chip, I'm positive that whoever or whatever is responsible for the way the Admiral has been acting is on board this ship."

"But, Lee, we've searched the ship inside and out and still haven't come up with anything unusual."

"I have a feeling that whatever we're looking for must be in there." He shifted uncomfortably; the weight of the gun in his hand made him feel off balance. "Ready?"

The men nodded silently.

"No one fires unless I give the order." Crane turned to Sharkey. "Okay, Chief, the door."

Sharkey turned the knob and pushed the door open for Crane.

As they entered the cabin, the Captain and his men winced as bright red and orange streaks of color radiated towards them from the desk. Morton, Sharkey and Kowalski dropped to the deck, in agony, their minds overwhelmed by the blast of power.

Crane's gun slipped to the floor as he tried to shield his eyes from the painful light. Edging closer, he saw the source of the unusual display: the colors were dancing like burning flames across the surface of the desk.

The Admiral sat, unmoving. Calmly, he looked up; his haggard features bathed in the red and orange hues. He raised the gun and pointed it at Crane.

"I've been expecting you, Captain." The unnatural coldness in Nelson's voice sent a chill through Crane.

"Let's not play games with each other, Admiral," Crane replied in low voice, "you've been trying to destroy this ship, why?"

The Admiral faltered for a moment. "You . . . you don't understand." The cold mask fell from Nelson's face. "I have to destroy Seaview -- it's the only way to save the lives of everyone on board . . . the only way to stop this . . . evil from destroying anyone else."

Crane swayed unsteadily as his surroundings blurred in and out of focus. The power from the relic angrily flared towards him, it's fiery fingertips intent on claiming the next victim. "No . . ." Crane moaned as he wiped the sweat from his face. His weakened condition made it hard to fight off the relic's attack. "It won't work, Admiral. That's what the Captain of that wrecked hulk thought -- that's why he destroyed his ship. Taking the life of every man aboard won't stop that . . . that thing! It will only bide its time until another ship finds whatever is left of Seaview!"

"Get out." The coldness returned to the Admiral's voice.

"No -- you've got to fight it! Try, Admiral, try!"

The Admiral's body stiffened; his face contorted in pain. The voice thundered angrily. Kill him . . . kill him . . . Nelson felt his grip tighten on the trigger. He yelled harshly at Crane. "Get out, Lee . . . now!"

Crane shook his head. "Fight it, Admiral -- keep fighting!"

The battle continued to rage inside of Nelson. Kill him . . . kill him . . . kill him!

"No! No . . . I . . . I can't do it!" Nelson swiftly raised his arm and, using the gun like a club, sent the evil relic flying across the room.

The Admiral slumped against the desk as the malefic stone smashed into the wall and shattered. Flashes of blinding light flared as pieces of debris rained down on them. The Seaview began shuddering violently, sending Nelson's unconscious body reeling into Crane, who had been trying to reach the intercom. After a few moments, the enormous power within the relic dissipated and the sudden fury subsided.

Nelson was the first to regain consciousness. He stirred slowly; his body tensed, expecting the thundering voice and intense pain which had been railing at him unceasingly. Then suddenly he relaxed. There's no pain . . . I'm free . . . I'm free!

Looking around, the Admiral saw Sharkey, Morton and Kowalski struggling to their feet. Crane was still unconscious, his body lying on its side, facing the desk.

"What happened?" Dazed, Chief Sharkey shook his head. "Man, what was that thing?" He turned to Nelson. "Admiral, you okay?"

Nelson barely nodded as he eased Crane over onto his back. Sharkey took one look and made a dash for the intercom in the corridor.

The Admiral looked at the growing red stain on the Captain's uniform with anguish. Hang on, Lee . . . he thought grimly, hang on . . .

****

A week later, in Sick Bay . . .

The ship's Doctor put the stethoscope aside and picked up the patient's chart. "That's all for now, Skipper," he said as he began making some notes. "You can finish dressing."

"Well, Doc, how is he?" The Admiral asked, his impatience growing.

"He'll live." The Doctor looked hard at the man sitting on the examination table. "Light duty, only, for the next couple of days, Skipper."

"Thanks, Doc." The Captain had a somber expression on his face as he began buttoning up his shirt.

"You don't look very happy for a man who's just found out he's being released from Sick Bay," Nelson commented. "Something troubling you, Lee?"

"I was just thinking about that relic you found. Were you able to come up with any new information about it?"

"Not really. Unfortunately, we weren't able to run tests of the samples that were found -- the pieces were just too small. However, based on my analysis of the stand it was in, my guess is that the stone could have been centuries old."

"Centuries old -- but how can that be, Admiral? Where did it come from?"

"I wish I had some answers for you, Lee. I do know one thing though." A dark look crossed the Admiral's face. "It very nearly succeeded in destroying Seaview and everyone aboard. All I could sense, while I was under its control, was the presence of a force that was nothing but evil." Nelson shuddered at the memory. "You and I both have heard stories about gems and other artifacts that have supposedly been cursed or brought tragedy to those who came in contact with them. I never used to put much stock in those tales. Until now that is."

"We may never know the answers."

"Possibly not." The Admiral's expression brightened. "I think that setting a course for Santa Barbara fits the Doctor's prescription of light duty, don't you?"

Crane smiled. "Yes, sir, it does."

"Good," Nelson said. "I don't know about you, Captain, but I'm ready to head for home."

The two men walked out of the Sick Bay and headed for the Control Room.

 

The End


Copyright 1998 by Carla Keehn


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