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“Hello boys! You really got me out of a heap of trouble just now, you know!” He continued to blabber on about something or other, but I wasn’t listening, today’s been a long day, and I’m just not in the mood for any other crap to deal with, especially being mistaken for a boy. I’m not sure why, but that actually happens quite a bit.
“Hey you! I don’t know where you came from, or why you came out of that tree, or why you’re dressed all crazy, or anything, but…” Now Hils and the boy were giving me their full-fledged attention. I was so tired, all the things I was about to say have flown out of my head.
“I want you to know……you listen here!....” I sighed, this wasn’t getting anywhere. My goal was to let the kid see his mistake, while I kept my composure and appeared strong and confident, obviously though, it wasn’t working. I raised my hands, and tried again.
“Hey, I’m a girl.” The boy straightened up. Slowly, he lifted the goggles, he squinted, then his face lit up in recognition.
“Celia?” The boy looked very excited. “Celia! It is you! I'm so glad, I thought I would never see you again!” He rushed up next to me, placing his hands on my shoulders. He looked so happy, I hated to break it to him that I wasn't Celia, but I felt I needed to.
“I'm not Celia! My name is Mercedes Ligota.” I put my hands on my hips. The boy moved closer, squinting again. His eyebrows furrowed. He squinted even harder. Suddenly, his face flushed. He took his hands off my shoulders and folded them behind his back.
“Oh! I'm so very sorry! I have extremely bad eyesight, and you resemble my good friend Celia. I haven't seen her in ages. Actually, I haven't seen anyone in ages, except you.” He turned to Hils. That part didn't really make much sense, but a man just came out of a sludgey, pudding tree, nothing made since anymore.
Hils cleared his throat. “I know this may sound weird, but, are you...The cat?” The man smiled, giving a small nod. Why didn't I make that connection? Poor Hils, he now looked very afraid, and was slowly backing up with his arms out in front of him.
“What's wrong with him?” The boy looked concerned. As if he didn't know!
“Oh nothing, except that you went all psycho freak earlier attacking him!”
“I...Attacked…Really?” He ran over to Hils, holding his arms tightly. “Listen! You don't even know, please listen! When I was a cat, I couldn't control myself! I would lapse in and out of consciousness! I would wake up on top of the barn, or inside a hollow tree, not knowing at all how I got there! It was terrifying! Please forgive me, alright?” He let go of Hils arms, looking pleadingly into his eyes.
“That explains it, all those two months, you were practically bipolar! Fine, I forgive you.” He attempted a small smile. The boy looked relieved, he half-smiled at Hils.
“By the way, My name is Jack.”
“Great, if you two are done, me and Hils need to get on to dinner. Bye Jack.” I turned, pulling Hils along behind me, but jack trotted along with us.
“What am I supposed to do? Should I leave? I have nowhere to go!” I stopped walking. This was a problem. A boy suddenly pops into earth, no home, no family, no schooling.
“What were you doing before?” Jack squinted again.
" I was at school, I think. it's been so long. it's hard to remember." Jack looked upset. His eyes turned down.
"Actually, even now that I'm concentrating, I still can't remember a thing. Nothing! All I can remember is Celia. I don't even know who she was! Just her name!" Jack rifled through his hair in frustration. Poor guy, he was frantic.
"Hey" said Hils, "It's ok. With all you've been through, I'm not surprised that you can't remember much. I'm sure you'll remember soon, and you can even stay with us till' you remember, ok? You can't sleep in my room though, cause of all my roommates. How about you, Mercedes?" Hils looked at me expectantly, so did jack.
"No way. That little room is barely big enough for me, No one else will fit." I immediately regretted saying it so harshly, seeing the look on Jack's face.
"Ok, Here’s what we can do. We'll get the blankets from my room, and you can sleep in the hay loft in the barn, ok? Me and Hils will sneak you food from the house every mealtime! Meanwhile, you can help with the work until you get your memory back. How's that?" I was pretty pleased with this idea, and Hils seemed to be too. Jack gave a small smile. Hils suddenly looked shocked.
"Hurry though! If we're late for dinner, Zabeth will eat us alive!" Oh! I completely forgot! Dinner! We all dashed across the field, and climbed over a fence. We thundered up the rickety wooden steps. I shoved my shoulder and hip against the door. It squeaked and moaned as it opened. I ran in, gathering the blankets up in my arms, this time ignoring the disgusting creatures underneath. Jack quickly took them from me, turning to the door.
Suddenly, there was a shriek from the bottom of the stairs.
"I SAID. DON'T. BE. LATE!!!" Oh god! Zabeth! Thump. She was coming up the stairs! I quickly calculated, there were ten stairs, and if it'd taken her that long...Thump. Then we have no time at all! Forget calculations! The time to act is now! I ran to the window, throwing it open. Thump. Thank god, The roof was right below it.
"Hils! Here!" Thump. I shoved him through the window, instructing him to sit still and lean down.Thump. I ran back to jack, Taking the quilts from him, and throwing them in the floor. Thump. Thump.
"Under the bed! Quick! I can't let her see you up here!" Thump. Thump. He scampered under the bed, and I kicked his arm under there with him. Thump. She was on the landing now. I tugged on my rumpled dress, trying desperately to straighten it out.
"Who's up there in your room? I heard voices! You are to have absolutely NO visitors!" The door was thrown open, "AH HA!" Zabeth stumbled in, pointing her finger at me. She looked around the room, and then looked disappointed. I stepped back and heard a small squeak from under the bed. I broke into a sudden, awkward coughing fit, but luckily, she bought it.
"Well, uh, I'll see you at dinner then." She shuffled her feet, looking a bit hopeful, but then turned away.
Suddenly, the floor began to shake. The roof began to crumble and there was a moaning groaning sound coming from the walls. Zabeth stood tall.
"Alright ya'll, let's cut the crap. Hils, get in here. Boy under the bed, I don't know who you are, obviously not from within 50 years from now, but come out. This is getting way out of hand, and I'm tired of playing stupid, and doing all the work myself. Everybody shut up, and pay attention. Every once in awhile somebody somewhere does something stupid, and I’m not just talking about nowadays either, I mean everytime, everywhere. That’s right punks, time travel. Get used to it! Recently, I’ve been undercover as “Zabeth Riling”, pretending to be old farm-woman, but I’m really darn sick of that! Here," She tossed an old-fashioned pistol at me. I just barely caught it before it crashed to the ground. It was encrusted with pearls, and had a few old diamonds and one small ruby on the handle. "See the dial? Turn that to the year and place you want to visit, then pull the trigger and aim where you want the portal to open." What the Hell? I glanced at the boys, who had now come out of hiding. They looked just as confused as me.
"I'll handle this one last job, but after that, I'm through. Forget the work, Forget school, Forget everything. Now you will report to me everyday, and I'll do my best to teach you. Don't pull that until I get back." She gestured to the gun, and pulled out one just like it from an inside pocket of her vest. "Catch you later." She saluted, and spun quickly, shooting the wall with the gun. It began to wobble, looking almost like the surface of water. And just like jack, (I'm guessing) she hit the wall with a flying leap, and slowly sunk into it.
The moaning stopped immediately. Walls on either side of me stopped shaking. Slowly, the crumbles on the floor rose up, floating back to their rightful place. Hils clung to Jack's arm, but Jack just looked up in awe. The ceiling had returned to normal. Everything was right again.
A fist burst out of the portal, making me jump out of my skin. Zabeth. Jack shrugged out of Hils' grip, running to Zabeth's arm. He grabbed her and yanked her out.
“God, I'm old. I just can't fight it like I used to. Here's your first mission.”
“What? We don't want no mission! I'm tired! I just want to go to sleep!” Oh Hils.
“Fine. You stay behind. You two! Get over here!” Hils now looked regretful, like he didn’t want to be left out, but it’s his own fault anyway. I hesitated to go as well, but she grabbed my wrist and pulled me over to the door. I yanked my hand away, making her glare.
“Listen up, brats.” She snatched my gun away. She was insane. Zabeth fiddled with some of the knobs and turneys on the side. “I've set this for his time, let him touch the top of it when you fire, and boy, focus intently, think about your home. Mercedes, your first mission is to take this boy back where he came from.” She gave me what I think might have been an attempt at a smile, then opened the door and pushed Jack out, me next. I turned to Jack, smiled, placed his hand on the top of the gun, and fired.
The gun had much more kick then I expected. Also, I think I forgot to actually aim at something. I glanced around wildly, nothing had changed....but suddenly I was sinking down! Like quicksand! The portal’s in the floor! Where's Jack? I saw him standing above me looking frightened. I had now sunk down to my waist. I quickly grabbed him, and pulled him down with me.
Now I was feeling so nice again, I guess that feeling comes when you’re traveling in between.
I spotted a shape in the distance, everything was blurry and blobby around me, but there was a certain dark splotch ahead. Jack headed for it, pulling me along. We reached the splotch, leaning into it hard, and we fell in.
Suddenly, everything was bright and clear. The roads were cobblestone, but I don't think we were in the past. All buildings were made of a bright shining metal, and large flies were everywhere, they shimmered in the sun and made a large clinky-whir sound if they got too close. The surrounding houses were on the small side, but off in the distance I could see giant skyscrapers, bigger than I’d ever seen. Near the skyscrapers, the air was hazy, and filled with gigantic, metallic orbs. The orbs were hurtling towards each other at a frightening speed, but never once did I see any collide.
Someone sitting on an overstuffed purple chair, in the middle of the road, leaned over to a big, old gramophone. A tinny, operatic voice drifted over to us.
“I'm home!” A large copper car passed by, with bells and whistles, no top, and a big tower in the back, spurting steam. It almost hit us, making me cringe as it swerved out of the way the very last possible second. Jack just laughed, big and Jolly.
“Yes, home. Wait, it's coming back, an address! Come on! Celia lives this way!” He grabbed my hand, pulling me through alleyways and market places. A flock of chicken's scattered around us.
Finally, we arrived at a large, round, brass home, shining and gleaming. It had a brick chimney protruding out the left wall, and a small courtyard out to the right with nothing in it but freshly turned dirt.
Jack pounded on the door, grinning broadly. The door swung open to reveal a young woman that looked nothing like me, she was tall, thin, tan, and in her mid 20's, too old for Jack.
“Jack.” She spit it at him like a curse. His face fell. “Do you think you can go off for ten years, and then think I'll just take you back? Well I WON'T! It's been ten years, TEN YEARS, Jack! What have you been up to? Babysitting a child, by the looks of it!”
Celia looked very angry, but she also managed to smirk at the same time. This really annoyed me, I was only a few years younger than Jack, not much at all!
“You're family left without you, Jack. They left without you! They are all gone, and you know what? I’m actually glad you left, because I’m happier than I’ve ever been! I am engaged to be married, see?” she thrust out a skinny hand on which a large sparkling ring was perched. “So you just get out of here, and never come back!” The woman's face was red, and her long black hair was flying all around her face like fire. Celia’s eyes were sparking, electrically yellow-green. She was beautiful, but looked very cruel, I didn't like her. My opinion of her didn’t improve when she slammed the door in our faces. Jack looked torn. Stumbling away, He sat on the beautiful shining walkway with his face in his hands. His mood had gone from 100 to 0 in a matter of minutes.
I bet Zabeth-or whatever her name was, had just gotten the time a bit off, and didn’t send us back far enough.
“I don't even know what to do now, I never expected her to be this way, and I still can hardly remember anything. Could I just come back with you? I don't belong here anymore.”
“Are you sure? I could just calibrate this thing to take us back farther, and we could try again.”
“No, looks like she’d happier without me, and I bet my folks would feel the same way. Can I just go back? Please?”
“Course' you can.”
So I helped him up and we returned the way we came.
Nowadays, we all work at the farm together. Zabeth (Not her real name, but that’s what we call her!) turned out to be quite nice after all, and she lets Jack, Hils, and I handle most of the gun missions, as we like to call them.
Jack is remembering more and more about his past everyday. It turns out, he was attending the aircraft academy, and wanted to be the first to build and patent a working Icarus glider.
As for my dad, he sent me a telegram saying that he got through the mountains with no trouble, and after visiting, he's coming up here to live at the farm awhile. That'll be great, but I still haven't figured out how to tell him about all I've been through. I’m sure he’ll understand.
Suddenly, I had a flashback. I remember when I was little. School had let out early that day, and I had ran home, eager to jump into the house and surprise Daddy. I remember walking in on him polishing a gun, but when he saw me, he quickly hid it in his coat and smiled innocently, but I had gotten a good enough look at the gun. The old gun. The old fashioned gun you might say. A pretty little pistol with encrusted pearls, one ruby, and a few old diamonds on the handle. Oh. My. God.
To Be Continued..