The gentle beeping of the two machines and the sounds of soft breathing were the only noise in the room. The walls, once white, were now stained with blast marks. The iron door that led to the room was riddled with dents. Some sort of fight had happened here.
A figure in the corner watched two monitors, mumbling to herself and listlessly tapping her fingers. Brown stains marred a once clean white uniform and the dank, putrid smell of rotting flesh filled the room.
But in the midst of the decay, lay two beds, the occupants seemed untouched by the decay that had wormed its way into the room.
The machines by one of the beds beeped with increasing frequency, the increasing pitch drowned out the steady hum of another machine. Drugs were immediately deployed to make the subject sleep, but the connection between the drug line and the subject was malfunctioning.
Back-up systems responded fluently. But it was too late. There was a shaky intake of breath.
Trip Tucker had woken up.
Malcolm jerked awake, sweating heavily. Beside him, his wife stirred.
"Bad dream?" she asked blearily.
"It's nothing," said Malcolm breathlessly. "Go back to sleep, I'm fine."
He moved from the bed and silently padded across the room into the bathroom. After relieving himself, he glanced at his reflection in the mirror. To all intent and purpose he looked perfectly normal – alright, a little tired and obviously sweaty, but otherwise fine.
Malcolm lightly traced a scar on his stomach and sighed. He'd dreamed of the planet again. He'd dreamed of waking in a white room, with technicians leaning over him and Trip. But as usual, before he could work out what was happening, the technicians would notice and drug him into oblivion.
He shook his head, running a tired hand through his hair. His wife appeared beside him and gave him a reassuring hug.
"Same dream as last time?" she asked quietly.
He nodded. "It was years ago, I don't know why I'm having these dreams again."
"We are about to go past that same planet again," she reminded him. "Perhaps that's why…"
Malcolm sighed; she laid a comforting hand on his cheek, gently turning his head so he was looking at her. "It was just a dream, nothing more." She gave him a small smile and led him back to bed. "Sleep."
He wanted to say no, but he knew that she wouldn't go back to bed if he didn't get some more sleep too. He crawled back under the covers and she curled up beside him.
"The baby's kicking," she said suddenly. She grabbed hold of Malcolm's hand and placed it on her bump. "Feel that?"
Malcolm nodded a wide grin spread across his face. For now at least, his dream had been pushed aside. The kicking stopped and his wife turned to face him beaming.
He gave her a soft kiss. Then he watched as she fell asleep before following suit, a nagging feeling gnawed at his gut, but the dream did not return again that night.