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nanowrimo 2011 part 3

Part 2

Cassandra was pretty sure she shouldn’t have been the one left to watch the store. Even with Faust asleep in his little bedroom corner of the stockroom, she didn’t feel entirely safe.
She wasn’t even sure how Abby had gotten her to stay there alone and watch the store.
Cass thought for a second.
And she remembered Abby saying, “Cass stay here and watch the store for me.”
Oh, right.
She kept herself busy by flipping through a few of the books on the right side of the store. Boring. She flipped through a couple books on werewolves and vampires. Unrealistic, she thought before her mind reminded her that those kinds of things were indeed realistic. It didn’t make any sense, and she wasn’t about to try to understand all of it at once. The knowledge would come to her as she needed it.
She’d been there an hour before the door to the shop opened up. She hoped it would be Abby, but instead it was three girls, two brunettes and a blonde, that couldn’t have been any older than seventeen. They had their Hot Topic hoodies and jeans and Cass tried to not snicker at them. She wondered how Faust managed when these types entered the store. They milled around the store for a little bit before they reconvened near the table with the candle jars. There was a bit of murmuring and Cass suddenly found herself hoping that they weren’t about to shoplift something.
Finally one of the brunettes walked up to the counter and asked, “Um, do you do…potions?”
“I don’t,” she said simply. “We got someone who does though.”
“Like, love potions?” the blonde girl asked.
Cass pulled out a small pack of stapled papers from underneath the cash register and handed it to the girl in front. “Fill this out. We’ll contact you if and when we decide to make a potion for you.”
“There’s like five pages here,” the girl frowned while flipping through the small packet.
“A love potion is some serious shit,” Cass advised her. Really though any advising she could give was just mimicking Faust after seeing him go through the same thing with a middle-aged man the week before.
“A hundred bucks?!” the girl shrieked after checking the last page of the pack.
Cass shrugged. “I don’t make ‘em. But the stuff that goes in, it’s worth it.” She wasn’t actually sure what went into the love potions, or if they were anything more than water and placebo effect.
“It’s all just stupid and not real anyway,” the blonde girl of the group sneered and grabbed her friend by the arm. Their brunette leader dropped the pack of papers as the three stormed out of the store, but Cass saw the other brunette hang back a little and casually pick them up and slip them into her purse before catching up with the others.
Cass took to dusting some of the bookshelves after the girls left. She only sneezed about nine times before she heard the shop door open behind her again. “Change your--” she began to ask before she saw who came in the door. “--mind?” she finished, less confidently when she saw who actually was in the store.
He was tall. And wide. He nearly took up the entire space of the doorway. And gorgeous. He had blonde hair-- no, blonde was a bad word to describe it, Cassandra decided. His hair was best described as being golden. Golden hair to his shoulders, somewhat scraggly and ill-kept. He had a strong jaw and angled nose, and a tanned skin tone that she wasn’t sure if he was a white guy with a deep tan or if he was just somewhat darker skinned.
She managed to stutter out a “hello” before she went back to her dusting. He nodded a greeting at her before starting to look around. The long brown coat he wore kind of fluttered near his ankles as he wandered through the shop. He stood with his hands in his pockets as he browsed around.
She finally walked back to her spot behind the register and began fidgeting around with straightening things up. Make sure the credit card machine was parallel with the cash register, organize that stack of applications for love potions… She could feel him gazing over at her every once in a while, but she didn’t dare look up directly at him.
Finally she saw him move towards the counter. He took his hands out of his pockets and rested them on the glass case top.
“Can I help you find something?” she finally spoke and was amazed that she didn’t sound too nervous.
“Yes. I am looking for the…” he paused for a second and seemed to be stuck in thought. Then he said, “I believe it is called the Eye of Suhen?”
Cass felt her body freeze up. Why why why had she let Abby leave her here alone? She knew something like this would happen. “Faust!” she called out without moving or taking her eyes off of the strange man.
He smiled at her with perfect teeth.
“Faust!”
She noticed they were perfect human teeth, though.
“I assure you, my intentions are not what you think.”
“Oh sure, cause there’s been tons of good guys in the past few weeks trying to get their hands on the Eye.”
“If I meant ill by it, you and I would not be having this conversation.”
It was true. He was likely to just start fighting and threatening his way to the Eye. He certainly had the muscles to fight his way with.
“I just don’t want to see it end up in the wrong hands,” he added. He stared down at her with golden -brown eyes, just a few shades darker than his hair.
She narrowed her own eyes at him. “It’s safe with us. You probably should leave.”
“Two human girls and a demon are hardly the appropriate guardians.”
She felt her blood run cold. Who was he anyway? What did he know about them? “Faaaaust!” she called out again.
“That really isn’t necessary.”
“It kind of is. Who are you anyway?”
“You can call me Sam,” he said simply.
“Sam. Is that your real name?”
“Yes,” he said, before changing his answer to “No.”
“Which is it?”
“It’s mostly my real name.”
Cass shook her head. All this was too much. It was not something she felt like dealing with in her life. Not now, not ever. “Are you human?”
His brown eyes widened and his mouth clamped shut. “Not originally.”
“You’re human now? What were you before?”
“I might as well be human now.”
“What were you before?”
“Such a curious little girl,” he said with a sly grin on his lips and Cass immediately felt her face blush. Something about the way he was looking at her.
“You-- you’re going to have to take it by force then!” she managed to say. “If we’re too weak to guard it, then take it from us.”
His smirk grew to a genuine smile. He began to reach out across the counter, and before she knew what was happening, his hands were on either side of her face. She might have pulled away immediately if not for the fact that she was mesmerized by how warm his hands were. They were ridiculously warm. Like, someone needs to get checked into a hospital warm.
He asked her name and she answered “Cassandra Hollingsworth” before even thinking.
His hands withdrew and the next thing she knew, he was walking out the door of the shop. When it slammed shut behind him, she ran to the door, locked it and switched the sign to Closed.
“FAAAAUST!” she called again, much louder this time.

“What do you mean, he was hot?” Abby asked while they sat together in the Subway eating dinner. “Was he like temperature wise? Or good looking? Because you never use the word hot.”
“I mean… I mean hot in every sense of the word.”
“So he was! What’d he look like?”
“Not the point here, Abby. He’s after the fucking Eye.”
“Right,” Abby nodded, suddenly reminding herself of the situation they were in. “And what did Faust say again?”
“He said not to fucking worry about it!”
“Uhm…”
“Yeah, I know right? He said that since he was out in the sunlight, and didn’t try to take it when it was just me there in the shop, then it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Okay. Wow. But maybe he’s right.”
“What?” Cass said a little too loudly and gathered the attention from nearly everyone else in the small restaurant.
“I’m just saying. If it was any problem, he would have tried to take it when I wasn’t there and when Faust was asleep. Maybe… maybe he’d be a good ally.”
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.”
“If we want to keep the Eye from falling into the wrong hands, and he wants to do the same, then maybe it would make sense for us to team up to protect it.”
“How do we know he isn’t the wrong hands?”
“We won’t actually give it to him, Cass. We just put him on vampire killing duty in case they try to attack us and take the Eye from us again.”
“I can’t believe you’re suggesting this.”
“And I can’t believe you didn’t think of it already!”
“You didn’t see him, Abs. His eyes. You didn’t feel his skin. It was burning up. He flat out said that he wasn’t human.”
“Not every non-human is gonna be the bad guy, Cass.” Abby spoke as if this should be common knowledge. “I mean, look at Faust.”
“Yeah, well, the jury’s still out on that one.” Cass rolled her eyes a little.
“I don’t know. He’s not too bad.”
“Oh my god…” Cass nearly dropped her sandwich. “I know that look. You like him!”
“What?” Abby’s tone wasn’t entirely convincing. “I do not.” She took a bite of her sandwich and tried to look innocent. There was no fooling Cassandra.
“You even protest the same way every time. Oh my god, I can’t even…”
“Look, he’s kind of cute. And not terrible to be around. And--”
“He’s pretty terrible to be around.”
“AND, I was going to say, this is not what we were discussing, can we get back on track please?”
“Fine.”
“So we’ve got some non-human after the Eye.”
“What else is new?” Cass crumpled up the paper her sandwich came wrapped in.
“Did he leave his phone number or anything? Some way we can get in contact with him?”
“No. All I know is that he goes by the name Sam.”
“Sam?” Abby asked, almost in disgust. “What a boring name. You sure he wasn’t just a normal human dweeb?”
“You weren’t there. You didn’t…” Cass rubbed her eyes and struggled for the words. “You weren’t in the room with him. You didn’t get to feel how the entire room changed around him.”
“Wait, changed how?”
“It just felt warmer, you know? Without any actual temperature change.”
“Cass, honey, you’re not making any sense.”
“I know it doesn’t. But I’m just telling you how it was. He was… he was radiant.”
“Down, girl.”
She tried to ignore Abby’s comment and continue. “He couldn’t have been a normal human. I’ve never seen anyone like that before, ever.”







The drive into Pittsburgh at that time of day was somewhat annoying and hectic and god fuck that stupid creepy tunnel, but Cass felt like it was something she had to do. Visiting hours were almost over when she finally got to the hospital, but she only needed a few minutes.
Jonas Cutler looked the same as he did last time she and Abby had visited him. Maybe a little paler and weaker, but certainly not sickly at all. She pulled a chair over to his bedside and sat down.
“Man, I sure hope you can hear me.”
He showed no signs that he could hear her.
Cass sighed heavily. “I think we need your help. Faust is…” She searched for the right word. “He’s fading. That barrier he holds up every night is barely working. Abby isn’t learning fast enough to continue what he’s doing. And I… dude, I don’t have anything. All I’ve got is some creepy guy with a fever that would kill a normal man coming in and trying to make friends.”
All she heard from Jonas was the beeping of the machines he was attached to.
“We really need you out here. If you can hear me at all, just… give us a sign or something. Visit Abby in a dream and tell us what to do. Something is going to get their hands on that Eye if we continue down this path. And I can’t imagine it will not be pretty when they do.”
There was no response from Jonas. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting from him. Hoping, maybe, that her words would stir something deep inside him and wake him from his coma.

“Sunset’s in ten minutes,” Faust grumbled from the doorway to the stockroom. Cass could tell that he’d just woken up. He looked like shit. He looked worse and worse every day. His skin was paler, and the dark circles under his eyes grew more and more intense. He was wearing only some pajama pants. His chest looked somewhat sunken in and almost sickly. “Get those kids out of here.”
Cass glanced at the two thirty-something women that were looking at the candle selection. She hated kicking people out of the store, but she understood why she had to.
“Let us stay here tonight, too,” Abby said. She stood up from her spot behind the counter.
“No.” Faust said simply before disappearing into the back room.
Abby followed him in, and Cass could hear their muffled arguing from behind the thick curtain. She sighed and approached the women, letting them know they’d have to make their purchases and leave. They ended up just buying three of the lavender candles. Cass knew if they’d had more time to look, they would have gotten more. The early sunset of the approaching winter was seriously killing their business.
The arguing behind the curtain was rapidly approaching loud shouts. She could hear some clattering as things fell to the ground. Cass could just make out Abby yelling, “Right now I’m stronger than you are!” Finally, there was a loud thump, and Abby came back into the store. “We’re staying here tonight.”
“You didn’t kill him did you?” Cass asked, slightly horrified that that might have been the case.
“No. Run over to Subway and get us something for dinner real quick, okay?”
Cassandra did what she asked without question. Something was weird about Abby in that moment. She felt almost… scary. She’d never felt that before about her best friend.

The store was darker than she’d ever seen it before when she came back. All of the front lights were off, and only a small lamp above the cash register was on. The door wasn’t locked yet, but she turned the lock after she was inside.
Faust and Abby weren’t in the store. And they weren’t in the stockroom either when she slipped behind the curtain. She groaned and prepared herself to find them making out once she turned the corner into the little offshoot room that Faust had made his home.
“Oh.”
Faust was laying down on his mattress on the floor, his eyes closed and looking like someone about to waste away from sickness, while Abby was heating something up in the microwave.
“Oh?” she asked when Cass entered.
“Just uh,” she struggled to find the right words. “Not what I was expecting. Is he alright?”
“I can hear you,” Faust said, sounding a lot more healthy than he looked, “and I’m fine.”
She looked to Abby for an actual answer. Abby just shrugged. The microwave beeped and she pulled out a mug of what looked like hot water. When she dropped a tea bag in, it kind of confirmed that it was indeed just water. You could never be too careful around that place sometimes.
“I gotta go lock up.” He seemed to struggle with sitting up, but he managed and headed back out to the store front.
“He looks like shit,” Cass whispered to Abby once he was gone.
“It’s keeping that barrier spell up all night to hide the Eye’s presence. That and with… with my uncle fading further, his existence here is fading as well.”



“Is this what happens every night!?”
“No.” Faust’s voice was somewhat strained as he spoke. “This is the first time they’ve been so close. They must have found out about the Eye being here somehow.”
And then, Cass saw him. Through the creatures and the night, she could see him out there in the parking lot. That was the answer, she knew. She rose from where she sat in the darkened store and approached the door. Abby and Faust wouldn’t stop her. They had to concentrate on the spell that kept the vampires and ghouls out. They wouldn’t dare stop her. She had to smile at this thought.
The spot where he stood seemed to glow, and there was nothing that dared to touch the glow. The creatures went into a furious uproar when they saw Cassandra stand at the glass behind the metal bars. But they couldn’t do anything. The spell still held.
Sam saw her and he smiled.
He took steps to approach the building, and as he did, the monsters shirked away. There was no actual visible light other than that of the fluorescent overhead lights in the parking lot, she realized as he walked, but there was something strange surrounding him, something she couldn’t see, but instead could only sense. Which was odd. She wasn’t the type for sensing energies around people. There had to have been something though, because the creatures not only left him alone, but seemed to clear a path for him and almost cowered at his presence.
What the hell was he?
Finally he reached the door. She could practically feel the warmth that curled off of his body. It would be safe to let him in. She unlocked the glass door and then the iron grate.
She thought she might have heard Abby yelling out, “Cassandra, what the fuck are you doing!?” but it didn’t matter. She’d just let him in, and then lock the door again. No big deal. Calm down, Abby. Besides, what was she going to do? Stop channeling her spell and get up to stop her from opening the door? Bad idea.
“Thank you, Cassandra,” he said in a low voice after he was inside and the doors were once again sealed. He rested a warm hand on her shoulder before walking further into the shop.
“Cass, what the fuck are you-- who is this?”
Abby was losing the concentration on the spell, and the strained look on Faust’s face was showing it. He didn’t speak or move though.
“Allow me,” Sam said as he knelt down next to the two of them. He rested a hand just above the glowing sphere Faust and Abby struggled to maintain. The sphere seemed to grow slightly in size and intensity, and then before anyone knew what happened, the entire shop flooded with white hot light that was gone as soon as it came.
Cass stumbled backwards in the blast, trying to keep her balance but failing and instead falling onto the incense table.
The sudden burst had knocked Faust back against a bookshelf, causing a few books to fall to the floor.
Sam looked just as fazed. He didn’t seem to radiate as much, and there was a tired look to his normally stoic, glowing face. “That took more out of me than I thought.” His voice sounded weak.
Glancing back at the doorway, Cass could see that the vampires were now scattered around the parking lot, looking just as dazed as the four beings inside the store.
“I haven’t felt anything like that in…” Faust’s voice was barely above a whisper and he seemed to have trouble finding how to finish his statement. “Couple hundred years,” he finally came out with.
“Been building that up for a couple hundred years,” Sam said while pulling himself to his feet.
Abby offered a hand to Faust to help him up, but he ignored it and stood up on his own. “What are you?” he mumbled in his tired voice.
“I told you he was something weird,” Cass said with a hint of pleading to her voice.
Sam glanced over at her, his eyes still the same golden color despite the other changes he seemed to have gone through within the past minute.
“This is the guy?” Abby asked.
Cass could only nod.
“You just let someone who’s after the eye in here then? Let him in so he could steal it? Good idea, Cass!”
“I think I could have broken through your thin barrier if I wanted to.” Sam stared at Abby who in turn watched him cautiously. “I just want to help. Is that too difficult to understand?”
Even Sam’s voice seemed more, well, human since the explosion.
“Your barrier is now vastly improved. Humans can come and go as they please, vampires, ghouls and other demon creatures are sealed out. No nightly maintenance necessary.”
“And Faust? Is he sealed in?” Abby asked without thinking.
Sam’s eyes flitted from her to Faust to Cass and then back to Faust. He seemed to be confused by her question.
“Doesn’t matter. I’m stuck here anyway.” He began picking up books that had fallen. Abby immediately grabbed them from him, as if the weight of a few books was going to be what finally killed him. Faust let her take them before he folded his arms across his chest.
“The Eye should be safer here now. Since you wouldn’t allow me to move it to safer quarters.” Sam turned and started to walk for the door before Cass could say, “Sam, wait.” He stopped and turned to look at her. “Stay here.”
“Cassandra.”
She ignored Abby. “Until sunrise at least.”
“Cass, what are you doing.”
“I trust him.”
They stood in silence for a few moments. “Whatever,” Faust mumbled.
“Wait, you’re okay with this?” Abby nearly shrieked.
“He put up a stronger barrier that I don’t have to channel all night. And he’s not trying to steal the eye when he could be. Fine by me.” He half stumbled back through the curtain, presumably to fall asleep.
“Don’t you even care what he is?”
“I’ll care once I’ve had some rest.”
Abby stomped over to Sam, looked up to stare him in the eye, and demanded, “Alright. What are you then?”
“Would you believe me if I told you?” He had a grin on his face that Cass knew would make Abby mad.
“I’ve seen some ridiculous shit in the past two months. I’ll believe nearly anything. Especially after your little stunt there.”
“I’m a god.” He spoke simply. Just as simply as either of the girls would have said “I’m a human.”
“Welp,” Abby said. “I guess I have heard it all now.” She stomped off to behind the curtain to the stock room, leaving Sam and Cass alone in the store front.
“Were you serious?” she asked him. Her hands were fidgeting a little, picking at her fingernails.
“Very much so.”
Cass couldn’t help but stare. While he looked the same that he did the last few times she’d met him, and even the same as she did before he put up the barrier. That strange radiance seemed to be so much weaker, if not entirely gone.
He grabbed the bean bag chair that Abby had been sitting in and plopped down in it. Why would he claim to be a god. Why not just someone with really powerful magic. He rubbed his palm against his forehead and closed his eyes.
“How, um… How does that happen?”
He opened one eye and cocked his head in confusion. “How does what happen?”
“Becoming a god.” Cass pulled her own bean bag chair closer and sat down.
“It doesn’t happen to you, Cassandra. You didn’t become human, you were born that way.”
She struggled to find a Lady Gaga reference or joke to make, but failed to come up with one in the appropriate amount of time. “Then, if you’re a god, why did you say that you might as well be a human, back when we first met?”
“Ah. That is a long story.”
“Sun won’t be up for, like…” she pulled her phone from her pocket to check the time. “We have at least three hours.”
He let out a noise that sounded something like an amused hmmf. “I’ve lost the source of my power. I was created by people believing in me, and since they no longer worship me as a god, then I am not one. Especially now. What you saw tonight was the last of my power that I‘d been holding onto for a few hundred years now.”
“How long have… How old are… Um.” Cass struggled to find appropriate words to speak.
Sam understood what she was trying to ask. “The civilization that created me died out about ten thousand years ago.”
Cass froze in place. “Let me, um, just…” She twisted the ends of her hair. It was getting too long and puffy. It needed cut. “You said. Ten thousand.”
“It sounds a lot longer than it feels.”
“I shouldn’t have even…” She stood up from her chair and started pacing around the store.
“You’re going to believe everything I’ve said and done so far, but have doubts based on a number?”
She turned and stared back at him. “It’s a big number.”
“You’re correct. It has been a long time. And now, the only ones who still worship my kin are vampires. And as you could imagine, vampires don’t have a lot of respect or worship for a god of the sun.”
“That’s what you are?” Cass asked as she sat back down in her chair. She was suddenly again fascinated by him and wanted to believe his claims. She fluctuated easily.
“Yes.”
“It explains why you were so warm and glowing.”
“I used to be able to do much more than mimic the functions of a lamp.”
Cass wanted to laugh at his sudden and unexpected show of humor, but found herself too amazed to do much else besides stare.




“We have to do something!”
“Like what, Abby?” Cass snapped at her.
“Go and--” she stumbled over her own words. “Go and stop them! Get the Eye back!”
“What are you brain damaged or something?! You saw how easily they took it from us. It’d be suicide to go after them.”
“I might be, actually,” Abby said in a low voice.
Cass looked over at her best friend in the dim light. There was blood smeared across her forehead and matted in her hair. Cass was sure she couldn’t have looked much better. She could feel bruises all over her body starting to blossom into purple and red marks. Her right shoulder ached terribly, though she was pretty sure it wasn’t dislocated or anything. She glanced over at Faust. He was resting against one of the beanbag chairs behind the counter with his eyes closed. She wasn’t sure if he was just resting his eyes, sleeping, or if he’d just completely blacked out. Sam looked pale and dim, like there was no semblance of any sort of energy left within him. He was slouched against the pile of books and rubble that had fallen from the shelves. He stared at Cass and Abby arguing, but his eyes seemed to see nothing. His face was as dirty and bloodied as Abby’s. She’d worry more about him if not for the fact that she knew he was immortal.
Cass wanted to suggest they go to a hospital, but she wasn’t sure how safe going outside would be. Or maybe it would be safer. She was just so tired, her thoughts weren’t even operating properly.
Somewhere above the sound of her blood pounding through her ears, she heard the faint sound of the grandfather clock striking midnight.
“We can’t leave Faust, anyway,” Abby said softly. She stared at him with soft, heavy eyes. While Cass didn’t care for him as much as her friend did, she had to admit she was right. They were essentially trapped. They were as trapped as Faust was.
“Come on,” Cass said. She pulled herself to her feet and offered her left hand to Abby. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

The wound on Abby’s head was still bleeding. It needed stitches and proper medical attention, she knew. But she did the best she could. She cleaned it and poured on some disinfectant which made Abby scream. “Sorry!”
“It’s okay. I’m being a baby.” There were tears in Abby’s eyes.
Cass barely heard herself say, “No.” She turned to rinse out the bloody towels in the sink and she could hear Abby choking back tears. It wasn’t from her injuries.
“We fucked up bad, Cass.”
She clenched her jaw and stared into the mirror at her reflection. There was blood in her own hair and on her face. She didn’t even know if it was her own or someone else’s.
“I don’t know what to do.”
Cassandra had never heard such a level of desperation from Abby before. Abby was in control. She was the strong one. She was…
They’d messed up before. They’d messed up a hundred plus times before. But never on such a grand scale. Never when the stakes were so high.
“I don’t know either,” she tried to say, but found herself choked by her own sobs. She collapsed down onto the floor next to Abby and wrapped her arms around her.
“But hey,” Abby said and wiped away some tears. “Beats goin’ out all senile in an old folks home.”
“Abby.”
“I mean really. If we’ve gotta die, might as well take the whole of the human race with us in an apocalyptic scenario that was our doing.”
They sat in silence.
“Now’s your cue to think of something brilliant that we’ve forgotten,” Abby spoke up again eventually. “Some magic spell you came across last month. Something inconsequential that will give us the power and knowledge to stop them before they use the Eye.”
“I got nothing,” Cassandra said with a pout.
Abby heaved a heavy sigh. “It always works in movies. The moment of desperation before the bad guy is about to win, it’s always when the hero’s plucky sidekick remembers a small detail that saves the day.”
“I told you. I got nothing. Wait…” Cass opened one eye. “I’m the sidekick?”
“You’ve always been my sidekick, honey.”
Cass knew Abby was right. “At least I’m plucky.”
“I don’t even know what plucky means.”
“It’s good, I’m sure.”
“Yeah.”

The girls were awoken from their rest when they heard Sam yelling from the store front. They glanced at each other before dashing through the curtain without a second thought.
Sam was doubled over on the floor, clutching his chest. Cass dropped to her knees beside him tried to hold her arms around his shoulders in comfort. Her heart thundered and she could feel the terror of something being seriously wrong with him creep in around her ears. “Sam,” she struggled to make him hear her voice. “Sam, what is it?”
“The Eye.”
She looked up at Abby, who had a now awake but still very sickly looking Faust standing at her side.
“They’ve activated it.”
This was it then. They’d failed.
She looked towards the front door. Nothing outside looked any different, it was still the black night beyond the cracked glass door. But she knew with the Eye activated, it would stay that way. The sun would never rise again.
The world would be obscured from the sun and be plunged into permanent night. Maybe it would have been better if the vampires had just killed them earlier that night. Better that than live through the chaos of the creeping apocalypse. Better that than--
Faust let out a sudden burst of laughter. Cass turned to look at him again. And within a few moments, he seemed to come to life. Color returned to his face, his eyes regained life in them. Cass felt her face relax as a thought crossed her mind-- this was what he’d wanted all along. He was never sickly. It was all just an act to deceive them. He was a demon after all. They’d been forced out of the world by mankind. Why not stage an apocalypse, a mass extinction. Make room for his kind once again. He’d be a hero. How had they not seen it before? How could they have trusted him?! And Abby… how she’d felt for him. It was just too much. Terror and betrayal twisted up in her stomach and she felt dizzy.
“An unintended side effect of the Eye’s activation,” he spoke as if catching his breath after being underwater for too long. “We need to get to the hospital.” A smile spread across his lips.
“What are you talking about?” Cass asked. Her hands were clenched into fists, and she waited for him to make a move.
“Jonas is awake.”
“What?” Abby asked.
“What?!” Cass repeated.
“Trying to destroy the Eye put him in that coma. I suppose it only makes sense that it being activated would break the spell.”
“How can you tell?”
“I can feel the binding. It’s no longer attached me to this place. It’s back on Jonas. And it’s really, really pulling on me.”
Cass was hesitant. She’d convinced herself so deeply a few moments before that Faust had been the bad guy in all of this. And suddenly she felt terrible for thinking those things, for wanting to blame him. Sure, he was a dick, but he’d never given her reason to think that he was evil.
She turned back to Sam who seemed to be recovering slightly.
“Cass, you’re the only one with a driver’s license and the lowest possibility of head trauma. You can drive to the hospital.”
“Do we really want to go into the city? Do we really want to be in Pittsburgh when the sun fails to rise?”
“I don’t see another choice.”



The hospital was calm. Cass felt like maybe she should warn the nurses and doctors to expect a shitstorm come the time of dawn, to give them a heads up, but what could she say that would make them believe?
“Remember that mayan thing? Apocalypse in 2012? Yeah, it’s a year early. Prepare for the beginning of the end today.”
It really wasn’t anything that sounded sane in any light, so she walked with the other three and tried to look as calm as all the others in the building. Faust, despite having never been to visit, for obvious reasons, knew exactly where to go, and once on the fourth floor, he took off ahead of the others. He reminded Cass of the speed walkers in her old neighborhood before she moved to Monroeville a few weeks before. It felt like so much longer ago than it actually was.
In the hospital room, once she caught up, Cass saw Jonas sitting up, eyes open-- though narrowed in an expression of what seemed vaguely like anger. Faust hadn’t moved from the doorway until Abby pushed him into the room. Jonas’s expression changed when he was his niece enter the room. “Abby.” He sighed and seemed to relax. He probably realized what was going on.
Faust and Abby approached his bedside while Sam and Cass hung back near the doorway.
“Well,” he said with a heaving sigh. “No possible way this can be good.”
No one seemed to want to speak. Even Faust was stricken silent.
“They got the Eye,” Abby said finally.
“I figured as much, seeing as I’m not dead.” He was glaring intently at Faust. “What happened?”
“They had--” Faust started to try to say.
“You.” Jonas interrupted him with before he could even start. The anger in his eyes was eerily similar to the look Abby tended to get. “What the hell did you do.”
Any smart ass response Faust had was caught in his throat and it came out as a short choke.
“Abby,” Jonas said with a slightly softened tone, “And whoever the hell you two are,” he said to Cass and Sam standing in the doorway. “Give us a few?”
The three slowly left the room and wandered into the hallway. The door slammed behind them even through none of them had touched it.
There wasn’t much an immortal demon would be afraid of. There were a few ancient spells that could hurt like a bitch. Iron contaminating his blood was another touchy threat. But in that moment, with Jonas’s dark eyes scowling at him, it was the most scared he’d been in a while. And not just because Jonas knew one or two of those ancient spells.
“Maybe you can explain to me, Faust,” There was something in how he said his name. Hell, it wasn’t even his real name. It shouldn’t have that much power over him. But it made his spine chill. “Why I’m alive right now?”
Faust took a breath. “You see, when a mommy and daddy love each other ver--”
“Cut the crap. What the hell did you do?”
He let out the breath in a sigh.
“I was supposed to die.”
“Yeah.”
“The Eye was gonna get destroyed.”
“I know.”
“But it didn’t.”
“No.”
“So,” he dragged the word out, as if it had five or six Os in it. “The eye is still out there.”
“They took it,” Faust choked out. “If you would have been there, I could have protected it forever!”
“I doubt that, Faust.”
“I’m really weak without you.” He tried to reason in his head that he only meant that in one way.
Jonas’s expression relaxed a little.
“They got it, and used it. And we have about two hours before the sun doesn’t rise.”
Jonas could speak volumes with his facial expressions, and normally Faust understood everything it said, but that morning it seemed to be a mystery.
“Why did you do it?”
“Who says I--”
“I say it. I could feel you interfering. I know it was you!” His voice raised slightly to a yell.
“It was what I had to do!” Faust snapped back. “You wouldn’t listen, we could have found another way!”
“There is none!”
“I couldn’t let you kill yourself over this.”
“We’d all die if I didn’t stop this.”
“We’d find another way!” Faust yelled, his scratchy voice filling the hospital room.
“Well did you find another way?”
“I… I gave up after you…”
“Gave up on me so soon?” Jonas asked with a smirk.
“Didn’t see the point.”
“Didn’t see the point in saving everyone on the planet?”
Different answers flew through his mind. You seemed more important. And I lost hope without you. But he settled on scoffing and saying “You forget what I am. You think that’s something I care about?”
“Oh come off it. You care. Maybe Abby would believe it, but I sure as hell don’t. You wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t have nearly killed yourself--”
“I didn’t want your sacrifice to be in vain!”
“Well it kind of was. Look, it would have been a lot better if you’d just let me finish the ritual.”
“It’s too late to change that now. It’s over. It’s done. You’re still alive.”
“How long do you think that’ll last, Faust? I’m the one who nearly stopped them before. Think I’m not number one on their hit list? Dude, you don’t fucking think!”
“And you think too fast! You think everything you come up with is the only solution and fuck anything that comes after. You’re not as smart as you think you are.”
“I have to think quick. I don’t have centuries to spend making a decision. Unlike someone else. I’m a mortal, remember?”
“Of fucking course I remember! Why do you think I was so goddamn terrified of you finishing that ritual!?”
Jonas went silent and stared at his demon friend. Faust suddenly realized how relived he was that he’d awoken. He realized what he’d done, and that he needed Jonas to clean up the mess he’d made.