Starlight #3: The Lost

Starlight is a series I started writing for fun in 2016, written in the “style” of a comic book.  As such, this is not my best writing, but it’s something I had fun doing.

The issue opens in Ridge Hill High, where Cad is walking out of his last class.

Cadmus (Narration): So, school was interesting.

Cut to similar shots of Cadmus in various classes, looking uncomfortable.

  • In Chemistry, jocks swarm around him, talking excitedly.
  • In Math, his friends are asleep on their desks.
  • In English, they’re tossing around a paper football.

Cadmus: And by interesting I mean probably the worst thing ever.

As Cadmus walks through the halls, a bunch of smaller kids duck their heads away from him.

Cadmus: Pretty much everybody hates me.

Close up on his face, where he bites his lip.

Cadmus: Not that I can blame them. I sound like a tool.

Cadmus turns the corner, and comes up on something unexpected– police tape. He looks up, and see cops have filled the hallway.

Cadmus: What?

Cop 1: Time of death… about 11:35…

Cop 2: Did you see…?

Cadmus: Is that Eliza?

We see Eliza, huddling in a blanket, tears streaming down her cheeks. Without thinking, Cadmus ducks under the tape and starts towards her. A cop steps towards him.

Cop 3: Hey, you can’t be here–

Cadmus walks right through the man, who watches him go, looking confused. Cadmus approaches Eliza.

Cadmus: Eliza! What– what happened? Are you–?

Eliza sees Cadmus and without another word embraces him in a hug. Tears stream down her cheeks.

We cut to the exterior of the school, where Cadmus is comforting Eliza.

Eliza: He was just… dead… bleeding out all over…. that weird gang sign carved into the table…

Cadmus: …

Eliza looks up at Cadmus.

Eliza: I’ve never seen a dead body before. It makes you feel… vulnerable.

Cadmus: Near death experiences tend to do that.

Eliza: And the worst part is…

Eliza hesitates. After a moment, Cadmus jumps in.

Cadmus: Is?

Eliza: No, uh, its silly.

Cadmus: No, go on. You can tell me anything.

Cadmus: Even though I basically met you yesterday.

Eliza: Last night, after the party, I… I had some sort of dream. You were in it.

Cadmus: I was?

Eliza: Yeah, you were, but you were different… terrifying. Kind of like some sort of…

Cadmus: Sort of what?

Eliza: Your eyes were glowing, and your skin was like a small sky. But everything about you felt dangerous. You were like a demon.

Cadmus’ face hardens.

Cadmus: Damn. She remembers.

Cadmus: We all, uh… we all have nightmares.

Eliza: Yeah, but this was different. You had that same symbol on your chest. The one carved into the desk.

The school bell rings as Cadmus recoils. A police officer comes up to them.

Officer: We have some more questions for you, m’am.

Eliza: *tired* Okay. Cadmus, can you… Cadmus?

Cadmus is gone.

Cut to Cadmus running back into the school, towards the crime scene.

Cadmus: What is happening to this place?

He looks down at his hand, which is glowing like a galaxy.

Cadmus: What is happening to me?

Cadmus bumps into Parker, who is heading down the hall, football uniform on.

Parker: Hey, Cad! Why aren’t you dressed?

Cadmus: No.

Cadmus: No.

Parker: What?

Cadmus: No, sorry, I… I have to go!

Parker: But the team is waiting for you–

Cadmus runs away without so much as a glance backwards. Parker watches him go, a strange look in his eyes.

Cadmus: Come on come on, come on,

Cadmus arrives at the police tape, ducking under it and heading towards the classroom. A number of surprised-looking detectives react immediately, making a beeline towards him.

Officer: Hey–

Other Officer: You can’t be here!

As they grab a hold of Cadmus, he glimpses the crime scene. He sees the symbol, and it reflects back in his eyes for a moment.

Cadmus: *whisper* No…

Officer: Kid, you shouldn’t be here.

Cadmus: This is exactly where I should be.

Cadmus: Say it say it say it

Cadmus: This is.. this is my fault.

Officer: Calm down, son, this isn’t–

Cadmus: You don’t understand! I killed–

???:Excuse me.

An elderly janitor interjects, placing a frail hand on the cops shoulder.

Janitor: I couldn’t help noticing, and I thought I should help clear up any confusion.

Officer: Thank you, sir, but we have this under–

Quick as a whip, the janitor produces an old knife from his uniform, and stabs the one cop right in the chest. As that cop staggers back, confused, the other one draws his gun but is nailed in the shoulder by the same knife, which the janitor pulled from the other cop’s body. As the last officer staggers backward, the janitor rushes him and snaps his neck. Breathing heavily, the man stops, and pulls the knife out of the officer. He begins ti hum.

Janitor: Dum-de-dum-de-dum…

Cadmus watches, stricken, as the janitor begins drawing the symbol in blood on the tile floor.

Cadmus: Wha… wha…

Janitor: Funny folk, dem coppers. They never get a durn thing right.

Cadmus: I don’t understand.

Janitor: Heh.

The janitor pulls up his sleeve, revealing the same symbol as a tattoo.

Janitor: You didn’t kill this man, Cadmus. We did.

To be continued…

Cadmus (Narration): When I was in the hospital, I wasn’t allowed to read or watch TV or basically do anything.

Cadmus stands at the hospital window.

Cadmus: So I made up a sort of game.

Cadmus places a hand on the window. We see stars reflected in his eyes.

Cadmus: I told myself all the things about myself that I knew were true.

Cadmus: *whispering* My name is Cadmus… something… Way. I’m around 16 years old.

Cadmus: It seems dumb now, but at the time it was kind of reassuring.

Cadmus: I’ve lived in Ridge Hill my whole life.

Cadmus: Like– I was real.

Cadmus: My parents names are Henry– no, Howard– and Louisa.

Cadmus:  I was more than the blank slate I felt like. I had friends. I had family. I belonged.

A tear slips down Cad’s cheek.

Cadmus: I was human.

Cut to the party where last issue left off. A smoking truck has crashed into the sidewalk as Cadmus backs away, shocked. His skin is glowing so that it looks like he is a galaxy.

Cadmus: Now I’m not so sure.

Parker: *Still drunk, slurring* Woooow Cadmoos, you loook funny.

The stars fade from Cadmus’ skin, leaving him looking ordinary.

Cadmus: I… I…

Boy: Hey! *a random jock approaches Cadmus, obviously drunk* Howdya do that?

Cadmus: I– I–

Boy: Yer an alien aren’t ya?

Cadmus: God, I hope not.

Boy: My pa told me how to deal with your kind…

The boy draws a gun, and Cadmus staggers back, shocked.

Cadmus: What the–

Cadmus: What the Hell?

Cadmus: In that moment, I felt like I would do anything to get out of there.

Closeup on the gun.

Cadmus: I guess I did.

Cadmus shoots into the air, coming to rest high above the partygoers.

Cadmus: What the–

Cadmus: WHAT THE HELL!

Cadmus: This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening, this isn’t–

Bam!

The gun is shot. The bullet hits Cadmus and ricochets off. The spot where is hit momentarily turns that same galaxy blue.

Cadmus: Get out of here get out of here get out of here

Cadmus shoots away, out of control

Cadmus: Woah…

He careens awkwardly towards the sky. He stops a moment, and stares at the moon. Unconsciously, he reaches for it.

Cadmus: What am I…

Abruptly, Cadmus starts falling.

Cadmus: Gah!

Cadmus falls for a few panels, before crashing into a cornfield. Dazed, he lifts his head.

Cadmus: My life is over.

Cut to the front porch of Cadmus’ house, where he stiffly makes his way to the door.

Cadmus: Ow ow ow ow

As he pushes the door open with a creak, a light flickers on. His father and his mother are standing in the foyer, arms crossed.

Cadmus: I’m dead.

Father: Cad…

Cadmus: Uh, I–

Father: How was the party?

Cadmus: …

Cadmus: Fine? I–

Mother: You look unusually coherent.

Father: Cadmus, we understand that drinking is a natural part of being a teenager. I did it when I was your age.

Cadmus: You also probably hunted dinosaurs, so…

Mother: It’s not that we’re telling you to drink it’s just… we know it’s going to happen. Please don’t do something actually dangerous, like LSD.

Cadmus: Honestly, this explains so much. No wonder I have brain damage.

Cadmus: *thumbs up* Got it, cool. Alcohol, no LSD.

Cadmus: This life is insane.

Cut to Ridge Hill High, the next day, an uncertain Cad stands outside the building.

Cadmus: I’ve checked social media (and deleted some pretty nasty pics) and nobody’s mentioned any sort of flying freak. They probably all think it was a drunken illusion.

Cadmus: (I wish it was a drunken illusion).

Cadmus shifts uncomfortably from one foot to another.

Cadmus: Man, I don’t want to do this.

Eliza: Hey! *waves and approaches* You okay? You look a little lost.

Cadmus: Eliza. Apparently we dated once? She’s actually kind of nice, unlike all of my other ‘friends’, who act like they jumped out of a bad teen sitcom.

Cadmus: Well, I have a map to classes I’ve spent weeks going to but can’t remember any material from, or where I sit, or basically anything.

Eliza: Ha!

Cadmus: It’s really not funny.

Eliza: No, sorry, it’s just…

Eliza tucks a bit of hair behind her ear.

Eliza: The first day of school sucks, and now you have to do it all over again.

Cadmus: Fair enough.

Parker: (Off-screen) Cadster! My man!

Cadmus visibly winces.

Cadmus: God, no.

Cadmus turns tentatively toward Parker.

Cadmus: Hey, Parker…

Parker approaches him with a pack of jocks, and tries some sort of weird handshake which Cadmus fails. Eliza stifles a laugh.

Parker: Call me Parkster, boy!

Cadmus: Yeah, no.

Cadmus: Do we have any classes together?

Parker: Do we? We’ve got all of them baby.

Cadmus: Now I wish I’d been shot.

Cadmus: *scratches back of neck* Cool…

Random boy: Good ta have you back, man! *musses the top of Cadmus’ head*

Cadmus: …

Eliza: Anyway, I’d better go. I have to talk to Mr. Lyzman about my latin paper.

Cadmus: Uh, great, bye!

As Eliza leaves, Parker grabs Cadmus’ arm.

Parker: What are you doing?

Cadmus: Uh, standing here?

Parker: No, fool. I’m talking about Eliza.

Cadmus: What?

Parker: Nala will be furious when she finds out you were fooling around with another girl.

Cadmus: Does it still count as dating when you have no memory of a girl slash are completely terrified by her?

Cadmus: I’m talking to you, and yet we’re not dating.

Parker: This isn’t a joke. That girl be crazy.

Cadmus: At least she can’t shoot me.

Cadmus: I’ll be fine.

Parker: You were warned, man.

Cadmus watches Parker exit.

Cadmus: This is going to suck.

Cadmus is walking through the halls, looking around.

Cadmus: Okay, classroom 2a…

Cadmus accidentally bumps into a girl. Her books go flying to the floor.

Cadmus: Sorry! Sorry!

He reaches down to help her, and picks up the books.

Girl: Thanks–

She seems to realize who he is.

Girl: You.

Cadmus: uh oh.

Cadmus: Uh, hi.

Girl: You may’ve fooled everyone else with this phony amnesia act, but I know you, and I know what you’re capable of. And I swear, you will pay.

She stalks away.

Cadmus: Man, I wish I had some context for that.

The panel pans out to reveal a short boy wearing a Star Trek jacket, watching.

Boy: You look unsettled.

Cadmus: I have no idea what I did to make her hate me so much.

Boy: Don’t take it personally. Most people hate you.

Cadmus: Thanks.

Boy: No, it’s no big deal. Just part of the natural caste system of this place. You’re a jock, you beat people up like me.

Cadmus: Have we–?

Boy: You stole my clothes after gym class back in August.

Cadmus:…

Boy: *extends hand* I’m Hunter. You have any more questions about who you’ve screwed over, let me know.

Cadmus: Fun.

Cadmus shakes hands with the boy. Suddenly, the bell rings.

Hunter: I gotta go. AP CompSci may be my jam, but that teacher will write me up if I’m late.

Cadmus: Okay, great. *he watches as Hunter leaves, a strange look in his eyes*

Cadmus: Great, so I’m friends with idiots and pretty much nationally hated.

Cut to exterior of Mr. Lyzman’s room, where Eliza is knocking on the door.

Eliza: Mr. Lyzman?

She pushes the door open, and her eyes fill with horror.

Cadmus: What other surprises are in store for me?

Mr. Lyzman is slumped down at the foot of his desk, bleeding out. The same symbol from Cadmus’ dreams is etched into his desk, glowing.

NEXT: KILLER ON THE LOOSE

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