.004

The emptiness of space surrounded her with only the occasional flicker of star light in the distance. Maurice spun and flailed in circles, trying to find any indication of where she was or what was happening or anything. Was she in space? No, because she could hear her panicked breathing and, well, breathing wasn’t really something people did out in space without a suit. Was she… dead?

She covered her face with her hands to try to calm herself down. “This is just a dream,” she told herself. “You’ve been dreaming this whole time. There were no Cosmos causing trouble outside the warehouse and you fell asleep. All a dream. Everything is okay.”

Even she wasn’t buying it. The vastness of space was just way too big. Her dreams were never like this. Space dreams didn’t put that pit in her stomach looking out into all that nothing. Was this what people in the city felt like when they went out to the dusty towns around LD-42? 

“Breathe. Just breathe. When you open your eyes and move your hands, you’ll be back in bed.” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, but upon opening her eyes, she was still floating without a purpose.

Great. Maurice kicked and punched at the empty air, screaming in frustration. Didn’t she at least get to haunt something since she had no clue what even killed her? She could haunt Uncle Wareho and push things slightly to the left each day to cause him grief for all his teasing. Or maybe-

A wave of warmth swept passed her, and Maurice looked up from her self-loathing. Warmth? Out here? She looked for the source but saw nothing… until she did. A ball of light, or more precisely, a dragon made of pink constellations went straight through her and wrapped her in heat, in life. Breathing made Maurice almost choke on the heat, but it filled her lungs with spices and fire and determination. 

The dragon circled around to face her. Golden eyes stared deep into her dark brown eyes before shrinking to the size of a common garden lizard. Maurice went to reach out to it, but she realized that the dragon hadn’t shrank- she had started to fall. And was falling faster… and faster… and faster…. and-

✰ ✰ ✰

A shot of energy jolted her straight up in which she immediately smacked her head against Zo’s. There was a chorus of groans before Zo punched her in the arm. “You idiot!” she shouted, rubbing her forehead. “You scared the absolute star dust out of me!”

Pain surged throughout her head as if she had been- “You hit me?!” It was all coming back to her. The fat Cosmos had been freed and on her way back to bed, Zo had slammed her head with a metal bar. She could barely get angry with how her head throbbed and very loudly told the rest of her that she was in severe pain. “Stars, Zo, you hit me! In the head!”

Zo wiped her eyes with her sweatshirt sleeves. Her makeup was smeared. “I got the alert that something was outside the warehouse,” she explained, sniffling. “I heard something running and before I knew it, I had smacked you.” More tears pooled up in Zo’s eyes and her bottom lip trembled. “You had stopped breathing, Maurice. I… I killed you! Stars above, I killed you.”

If she hadn’t been in so much pain, she would have laughed at the situation. Instead, she looked down at her chest where a different kind of pain caught her attention. Zo had put one of those shock stickers that came in first aid kits when someone’s heart stopped. When she peeled it off her chest, a faint whisp of smoke came from the packaging. In the light of the moon, she could faintly read that the sticker had been expired for nearly two years. How it had done its job, she chose not to question it.

Quiet sobbing brought her focus back to Zo who was quietly sobbing. She forced herself to sit up, struggling with her heavy limbs. “Look, you killed me for like, what, a few seconds, right? But I’m better now. See?” Zo looked at her and the sobbing turned into wailing. The sound was like someone blaring an airhorn right inside her brain. She carefully pulled Zo close into a hug, rubbing her friend’s back until the wailing returned to quiet sobs. “Feeling better?” she asked, when the sobs turned to sniffles.

“Uh huh.”

“Good, because we should probably get to a doctor sooner than later. My head is killing me.”

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