“I remember the second time that man came back into my life. So cool and calm. He appeared hovering in a time warp over a customer’s living room table. They thought it was a bad trip, and Erin acted as if I should have known he’d come back for me...almost sixteen years later. I remember when he took my hand...how we left. I thought about it so much...that when I finally saw what was happening it was too late…”
How do quantum physics and chemistry go hand in hand?
When you're selling top grade LSD to college students. Cassandra was a little early, but she would also be babysitting the trio who recently became her favorite customers.
Once she entered their apartment, she immediately pulled the plastic baggie from her purse and showed them.
“It's three small squares of paper…” one said in disappointment.
“Only way to take it,” she said, with her hand out.
Once she counted the cash, she motioned as if to hand over the acid before drawing back.
“Did you eat?” She questioned.
All three shook their heads.
“And all the clocks are covered?” She asked, looking around.
No one answered.
“When you do this...you're going on a trip. That's why the experience is referred to as a trip. Nothing can matter...especially time. Or you'll end up in the worst experience you'll ever have…”
Matthew, the original customer, ran into his room and emerged with pillow cases and towels. The four covered every clock in the tiny apartment, then Cassandra took their phones, ensuring they were turned off.
“Lastly, are you expecting anyone?”
They all looked among themselves and agreed they wouldn't be bothered.
“So...the strips go into water. And that's it. I brought a huge poster illustrated specifically for your trip. That's all you need to pay attention to. I'm here to ensure that you're all safe.”
Chris, Matthew’s best friend, came off as scary when she first entered. He quickly raised his hand, and smiled.
“Will I see heaven?”
The two others, including Brian, clicked their tongues at him.
“If that is your desired goal--no. You're supposed to go with the flow,” Cassandra said, making them sit on the couch. She placed all three glasses on their living room table, then hung the poster adjacent from them.
“Drink. And think happy thoughts…”
So far, so good. All three sat, completely dazed and smiling among themselves. It had only been a couple of hours, and Cassandra anticipated at least another eight. This batch was potent, though. It was her who needed to survive should it go any longer.
She fiddled with her phone, when she heard mumbling from the couch. It was Chris, of course. But he didn't seem to upset. As she attempted to send her text, a rattling sound began, soft and subtle until everything in the house began to shake.
All the covered clocks began beeping, chirping and whistling while everyone's phone including her own, started glowing brightly. She looked over to the couch as the trio still sat there enjoying themselves when the poster she brought for them began to twist into itself. Chris was the first to react as his mumbling slowly turned into sobbing.
Then a cord of lightning strung down and opened gradually, as a nicely polished dress shoe stepped out. Then the owner of the shoes leg, and cane were visible.
Cassandra instantly knew who it was, but was more concerned for her customers, who would be freaking out at any moment.
Chris shot up from his spot, his hands forward as Erin pressed further out, stepping onto the floor. He looked bewildered, especially since Chris stood right in front of him, sobbing and in a trance.
“Forgive me!” He shouted, as Erin quickly circumvented the area.
“Jesus!” Brian shouted, whipping his head around to find Erin.
“He's dressed entirely too well. That's Lucifer, friend,” Matthew retorted.
As Erin approached a rather irritated Cassandra, he realized all the clocks were covered.
“What in the world have I…”
He stopped and looked back at Chris, who was now on his knees, still begging for forgiveness.
“I've got impeccable timing, don't I?”
Cassandra was at a loss for words. Here she was, babysitting newbies...when out pops Erin from a portal directly in front of the poster she had brought for their trip. Not to mention...it had been sixteen years since she last saw him.
Brian wasn't convinced on anything and insisted on examining Erin thoroughly. Erin took his cane to divide space between them before looking sternly at Cassandra.
“I need you to come with me…”
His words echoed as she looked down at his hand. His time warp was still open, Chris carried on crying while Matthew and Brian were attempting to examine Erin.
“Is that a galaxy in the globe on your cane?” Matthew asked, nearly cross eyed.
“Yes...” Erin said looking back.
Cassandra felt like this was all a dream. She had hoped he'd never forget her. Besides the fact that he disappeared along with her father...Erin had returned.
“I promise...nothing bad will ever happen to you…” he whispered sweetly.
Erin smiled, making eye contact with her. She never realized his eyes were a dark teal, or how his face was clear of aging lines and blemishes. How his wavy hair sat neatly under his cream colored fedora. And how he owned slight dimples with a seemingly devilish smile. She was falling in love with him again, while staring at him.
Looking around, she was sure they would be okay. She left her phone, walked with Erin to the portal, stepped over Chris…
And landed in the ever growing mess Erin created.
Demetri had recently checked on her. They were two days away from an abandoned city he was sure her father made residence. She was two days away from confronting the man who left her at the age of twelve.
Cassandra was close to eight months pregnant. Braxton hicks contractions lasted longer and were more intense. Often times, her left hip would pop out of place. And some days, she couldn't make it out of her tent.
And no...absolutely no one… knew where Erin was.
It was probably for the best, considering how easily they could be traced. The Time Travel Association and Committee watched anyone using a portal. They could find you anywhere. What's worse is their timing.
Cassandra packed up what she felt she needed and existed her tent. The sun began rising in the north, as was said. What a sight to behold. The sky was not only blue, but bright purple, pink, orange with streaks of green.
There was a moon close by, as well. Large enough and close enough that you could see the very surface of it. And another sun, off in the distance, constantly shined its light but never interfered with the cycle of the planet she was on.
After meeting with Madeline and Demetri, Cassandra became nervous. She had been angry, sad, confused all at once for years. She had finally let her aggression go...and now she had to face him.
The Duke mentioned her father being trapped in his own personal hell. One could only imagine what such a thing would be. Was he dying? Alone? Crazy?
No one spoke as they walked through the clearing Demetri and his older sons had created overnight. Then there, at the tip of the highest tree sat the beginning to an enormous gold statue, another resembling her father.
Once they made it through the greenery, other statues were made visible, all resembling her father. And all with a likeness towards earthly known deities.
“You've read any text from Samaria?” Demetri asked.
He waved his hand about, then glared at her.
“Your lover knew about this the entire time…”
“Okay but that means.”
Demetri stopped. He was tired, angry...but not with Cassandra.
“When Erin traveled past everything and back again, he had a choice to make. So he chose your father. A Being whose toyed with civilizations, souls...the essence of life itself. And the only time he was able to get close enough to what he and his brother desired...was with your absolute creation…”
“And in turn...what? What do you want me to say?”
“Erin is being hunted down because...technically...he deserves it. He has been too busy trying to fix everything. Instead of realizing he could have stopped it from the very beginning.”
“That's nonsense,” Madeline spoke up, “we would have or--know nothing. Yes he messed up, but there's so much more to it than that. He could have come back and caved in. Despite her father and uncles going about...pressing their stamp wherever they saw fit...the majority of most have seen good and want good. So you cannot say it's all for naught.”
Demetri attempted to ignore his wife, but his approach to Cassandra was now gentle.
“He's stuck in a time loop, so do not pass the light at your feet…” he said, choking a little.
Cassandra studied his face and nodded. No matter the case, everyone was involved with Erin from the first moment Erin decided so.
“We'll keep guard as best we can. Don't forget, worst case scenario...use your device he's given you. It has preset destinations to keep you safe…”
Cassandra gestured that she agreed as Demetri showed her where to go. He stood far off, still watching her as she made her descent into the temples entryway.
A thick buzzing could be heard, and when she looked down, the gravel shifted slowly from side to side. It was as Demetri said.
She heard a familiar voice straining--happy at first. Then she could hear the person sobbing. Before she turned the last corner down the crooked stone stairwell, she heard her father raging. But he stopped as soon as he saw her.
Damien sat down, wiping his hair from his eyes. He couldn't believe what he was seeing.
“Cassandra?” He said.
A blue light shot up from the bottom of the temple floor and curved its way to the ceiling. Whatever time continuum his was trapped in inflated slightly, but shrunk back in as Damien began talking to himself again. He had a corner of the room held up with paper and pencils flung about. The only thing that hadn't moved was a golden stool.
“Do you see it?!” He exclaimed, pointing.
Cassandra came as close as she could to witness the excitement, however she saw nothing but carvings in stone.
“It's beautiful, don't you see?” He asked, looking to her, “Cassandra? When did you get here?”
Her heart dropped, yet, she wanted to convey her message.
“I've been here for a little,” she spoke softly.
“You're with child!” He exclaimed.
He stopped again, swiping in the direction he was originally staring at.
“Do you see it?” He asked, looking over his shoulder at her, “it's beautiful. Don't you see?”
Cassandra shook her head.
Damien stumbled closer to the barrier of his confinement. Something was holding him back.
“That's Erin's, isn't it? Is it a boy?!” He exclaimed.
Before she could answer, he interjected.
“It is...why else would you be here…”
He stopped again, marveling at the immaterial. The very thing that kept him where he was. It seemed to shine brightly in his mind. So much that he couldn't remember Cassandra's presence.
“They'll be here soon,” he said, after repeating himself again, “it's best you use what Erin gave you. They have no intent of keeping you safe.
“What a waste of a good surprise,” Gretchen retorted , coming behind Cassandra, “and you, Damien. I expected better…”
Damien came to the barrier of the time loop and screamed violently at Gretchen, almost making Cassandra cry. Gretchen laughed and dismissed him, edging closer to Cassandra.
“The game of cat and mouse is finally done. I tire of the chase. Galaxy hopping, quite exhausting…” Gretchen said.
“Do you see it?” Damien said, glaring at Gretchen.
“See what?” She answered.
“It's beautiful, don't you see!” he said, now eyeing Cassandra.
He ignored the tears beginning to fall from his weakened eyes.
“He's gone completely mad!” Gretchen said, now with a firm grip on Cassandra's wrist.
Everyone laughed expectedly, ignoring Damien altogether. Damien nodded at Cassandra, indicating that despite what has been done on his part as a father, she would know what to do.
“He's like a monkey in a cage…” Gretchen said, giggling to herself, “can't escape your own mess...I mean look at you…”
She tugged at Cassandra as if to walk off when Damien started up again.
“Do you see it?” He said, choking back tears, “it’s beautiful...don't you see?”
Cassandra nodded, pressing the send button on the simple time traveling device Erin gave her. Right next to Damien's oblivion came a most marvelous vortex. As it etched it's way down to open, Gretchen snatched Cassandra into her.
“You are the biggest fool by far!” She yelled.
Cassandra snatched her hand free and stepped calmly into the portal when she realized her portal and her father's time continuum were meshing together.
“Do you see it?” Damien pointed. Cassandra looked outward at a seemingly undiscovered part of the universe. Stars as bright as could be, swirls of color not known to any man alive.
“It's beautiful,” Cassandra recited with him in unison, “don't you see?”
Damien nodded, and folded his arms across his chest as Cassandra vortex swallowed his own, whilst he disappeared.
And there, in the quiet of the unknown, Cassandra floated for a moment in time before being sucked into another vortex leading to her next destination.
Angelo came behind a rather angry Gretchen and helped her stand, then whispered in her ear.
“That doesn't matter!” She shrieked, “that idiot deity created another black hole!”
She pointed then screamed as she watched her soldiers flee in terror. Angelo nodded, activating his own device and gesturing to his twin sister, Angelica.
“Don't worry,” he reassured Gretchen, “I will find him.”
“Kill him!” Gretchen screamed.
Angelica held out her hand to assist Gretchen, but she refused and closed her eyes.
This, along with the entire surrounding galaxy, began swallowing into an abyss that everyone was clearly going to blame on Erin.