Stardust

A novel by Aaron Craiger

First Draft

Chapter 22

Samantha, Cassie and I arrived at the hospital quickly, me still in my Fire Department uniform, and ran up to the Cardiology wing. Breathless, I skidded to a halt at the desk. "Where's Steve?" I said, gasping.

"In here, Dean," Steve called, poking his head out from a room. Leaving the poor, confused nurse, I half-jogged half-walked into the room. Laying on the bed was Starla, my friend from Food Lion.

Oh, shit.

Steve handed me her chart, and I paged through it, examining the EKGs and lab results. I slowly handed the chart back to him. "She has a few hours left, if she's lucky..." I mused quietly.

"I know," Steve said softly, placing his hand on my shoulder. "I'm sorry, Dean. I didn't know if I should tell you, considering Brittney's funeral was today, but I figured you'd want to say goodbye. I'll give you some privacy," he said, and turned to leave, motioning to Samantha to follow. She did, Cassie, invisible in her fuzzy ball form, hovering above my shoulder.

"Cassie..." I said sadly, "She can't die. Isn't there anything we can do?" I took Starla's hand in mine, gently holding it.

"Well," Cassie said, thinking, "There is one thing we could do."

I watched from my vantage point behind a moon as we waited, once again in my fuzzy ball form.

"I don't get something, Cassie. We beat him – Death – so why are people still dying?" I asked.

"We only killed one Reaper, Dean. There are many out there, not as evil like Demos. He was turned." Cassie replied. I nodded slowly.

"Makes sense, I guess," I said. We continued waiting. A few minutes later, a figure appeared not too far away from us, her golden hair contrasting against the blue of the ether. I started to move towards her, but Cassie nudged me.

"Wait a few minutes," she said. So, we sat there and watched as the girl looked around, the expression of awe on her face quite obvious. Finally, at Cassie's urging, I closed my eyes, and used my senses to follow Cassie. We stopped, and I could sense the presence of the girl. We kept our eyes closed as she continued to look around (I assume). Finally, she spoke.

"What the...what are you two?" She asked. "Are you going to kill me? Or is this just another whacked out dream?" Cassie and I opened our eyes; her crimson eyes glowing, as were my sapphire ones. "Wha..."

"Hello, new friend!" Cassie said excitedly.

"Where am I?" The girl asked, looking at us both in turn.

"You are in the Outside, Starla," I said, and she jumped.

"How did you know my name?" She asked.

"It's not important," I said. "Your body is about to die, but it is not your time yet. That is why we have brought you here."

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"Your body was damaged by the Reaper Demos, who was turned. He was evil," Cassie explained. "You're not supposed to die yet!"

"Oh...well, that sucks," She said. So how are you going to stop me from dying?"

"Don't worry about the process," I said. "When you return to your body, your heart won't be beating, but you will still be alive. Don't be worried."

"But..." Starla said, confused.

"Oh...it's time for you to go..." Cassie said sadly.

"Take care, Starla. See you around," I said.

Confused, Starla vanished from the Outside, returning to her body. I turned, and looked at Cassie.

"Well, Cassie, it's time for me to get back to my body. Are you coming with me, or are you going to stay here?"

"If it's alright, I'd like to come with you, Dean. Your world is so full of interesting things. I'd like to explore some!" Cassie was bouncing.

"Well, I do have some vacation time coming up..." I mused.

"Great! Then it's settled! As I believe the saying goes, road trip!" Cassie said, seemingly very excited.

Later that day, after I had returned to my body, I lay in bed, cuddled up with Samantha, watching TV. Last I had seen Cassie, she was discovering cotton candy on the boardwalk. Let's just say that Cassie on a sugar rush is...very entertaining, to say the least. "So, Sammy, feel like taking a vacation, going on a road trip? I think after the excitement of the past few weeks, we deserve a break."

"Agreed!" She said, with a laugh. "Is Cassie going to come?" Samantha asked, to which I replied with a nod.

"She wants to get out, explore. So, I figured we could all go together," I said.

"Sounds like a good plan. Any ideas where? How about Florida?" Samantha batted her eyes at me, triggering a laugh.

"We'll see, Sammy, we'll see." Suddenly, I heard a voice booming from the boardwalk (my porch opens onto it).

"Do not touch me there!" It thundered, full of anger. Jumping to my feet, I rushed to the patio door, and sighed. Cassie had some douchebag pinned to the ground, and was screaming at him, threatening to do some not very nice things to his private regions.

Like I said, Cassie on a sugar rush is very entertaining.

With a sigh, I started for my front door, and jogged to the boardwalk, only to witness the douchebag go flying into the water. Laughing, I walked up to Cassie.

"What happened?" I asked, having already figured it out for the most part.

"The idiot believed he had the right to touch me somewhere I did not wish to be touched. I tried to warn him, but he chose not to listen." Cassie said. "Can I go get some more cotton candy? It's fun!"

Life with Cassie around is never boring.