Cassie wanted to move but couldn't. In fact, it took everything she had to not scream. Hiding in the earth room, she hunched down, scalpel in hand, waiting for the creature to come for her. Trey's dead body had begun to settle into rigor mortis and the lack of oxygen was causing his body to decompose faster. The smell was more than Cassie could stand, but she bore it rather than face it. Christ, thought Cassie, what was it? How did it get on board the ship? Hearing a noise, Cassie suddenly stilled. It was in the room. Cassie had the terrifying feeling that it knew she was hiding and was coming to find her. Suddenly, an arm, with shriveled and burnt flesh, broke through the wall. Screaming Cassie ran forward and stabbed the creature in the arm. It screamed in pain and Cassie ran. She kept running, but the creature still caught her and . . .
Cassie woke up drenched in sweat and screaming. Her screams echoed through her apartment so loudly that for a moment she was convinced that she was on the ship. Quickly sitting up in bed, she realized that she was still at home and that she was safe in bed. With that realization, Cassie sank back against the pillows in relief. Slowing down her breathing, Cassie felt her body stop shaking. She thought about falling back to sleep, but realized that would be futile. Getting out of bed, Cassie walked into the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face. Now fully awake, she walked back into her bedroom, grabbed the book from her bedside and went into the living room.
Settled into her favorite reading chair, Cassie opened her book and flipped through it. The book was the complete works of Jane Austen and Cassie always had a difficult time choosing which story to read. Should she pick Pride and Prejudice and fall in love with Mr. Darcy all over again? Should she pick Sense and Sensibility and decide which sister she is? What about Persuasion where Captain Wentworth and Anne found each other after several years apart? Thumbing through the pages, Cassie held the book in her hand before letting it drop to the floor. Finding her body shaking again, Cassie knew that even her beloved Austen couldn't shake the remnants of that dream. Grabbing a cover, she slipped it over her body and rested her head on the couch arm. Closing her eyes, Cassie saw the image of the creature from her dream and she reopened her eyes immediately. Who was that creature? Why would she have such a horrible dream? Why would she have that dream about Trey?
Sitting up restlessly, Cassie realized that there were no answers to that dream. Because it wasn't a dream, but a foreshadowing of things to come. Cassie was smart enough to know the risks of embarking on this voyage, yet she knew that millions of lives rested on this mission being successful and keeping her own family in mind, Cassie knew that whatever sacrifices would be worth it. Nevertheless, the fate of Icarus I was unknown, and Cassie and the rest of the crew of Icarus II knew that they could be lost among the stars if something, even if something small went wrong. Still, Cassie knew better than to think like that since fear was self-defeating. Always a positive person, Cassie told herself repeatedly that the mission was going to go just fine and that the entire crew would return home safely.
Smiling at her brand of positivism, Cassie picked up her book and thumbed through it again. She decided on Persuasion. While it was not Austen's best work, it was one of Cassie's favorite stories because the romance was so mature. Captain Wentworth and Anne fall in love and reunite when both are more mature and ready to actually be together. Opening to the first page, Cassie smiled and thought of Capa. Maybe she and Capa would end up with a romance like Persuasion where they would end up together after many years apart. While technically, Capa and Cassie would not be physically apart, a shipboard romance was out of the question, but maybe it could happen when they returned home. Settling into her chair, Cassie began reading until the sun came up.
Note: Thanks to Faniwhiskers and Shining Sunny for their reviews and encouragement. It is because of them that I completed this story. I hope you guys and others who read it; enjoy it.