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The prompt for this week’s writing challenge is time travel. My mind was flooded with so many memories I’d love to relive, but I felt apprehension. Currently, I feel that I may have bored you all with too much “me talk,” so I decided to write a fiction piece. Honestly, this didn’t come easy, and there were several times when I wanted to scrap the whole thing. However, I knew I’d feel like a lousy quitter if I didn’t finish and post it…So, here we go:
Like any other day, I click a leash onto Reggie, and we burst out the door. My feet keep cadence with his ambitious panting as we near the soggy trail. Though nearly everything is thawed, a few piles of snow drifts remain.
Around the bend, I notice something glinting through a pile of nearly melted snow. I look to Reggie, whose ears shoot up before he crouches down and cautiously approaches.
He pounces on the pile and digs furiously. The sun beaming through barren trees brings a spectacular shine to the silver hatch Reggie uncovers. At thirty-three years old, I’d say my adventurous years are behind me. Unable to ignore his wagging tail and hopeful eyes, I surrender to my curiosity.
Grasping the handle with my red mitten, I pull with the strongest force I can summon. No luck.
“Well, it was worth a shot,” I mumble before looking up to Reggie. With perked ears and timid panting, he’s not ready to settle.
This time, I use both hands, bracing my feet against the softened earth. Grunting and yanking, I pull the handle until my feet slide out from under me. As I fall to the ground, I hear a creaking pop. Lying in a mix of mud and snow, I raise my eyes to the open hatch. Reggie licks my face and then runs to the hole.
“No, Reggie! Reggie, stay here!”
He glances up at me before disappearing, and I scramble to my feet. I look down into the hole, dimly lit with a subtle blue glow. Knowing I don’t have another choice, I lower myself in.
My feet land onto steel flooring, and I look around to find various buttons, screens, and what appears to be a futuristic dashboard with a large black pilot seat. Something pushes into my lower leg, and I stumble, knocking into the wall full of buttons. I hear a big clunk, followed three metallic clinks. Reggie runs into my lap, and our heads snap up to the hatch, now securely shut.
The screens glow on around me, buttons flickering like Christmas lights. A series of beeps emanate from the front screen.
“Enter destination,” a robotic voice demands. At this point, my only intention is to get the hell out of here. I scramble, searching for a big red “abort” button.
“Default, 100 years,” the system reports, followed by a chiming noise. “Countdown initiated: Ten, nine, eight…
“Shit, shit, shit!”
“Ahhhh!” I scream, sliding my hands across rows of buttons.
I grab Reggie.
I close my eyes and brace myself.
“Arrival at year twenty-one, fourteen.”
A hissing sound erupts from above my head before a mechanical buckling. Finally, the hatch pops open, along with my eyes. Reggie claws at my legs, begging to be the first to explore.
“Ok, but stay close,” I caution before lifting him overhead. Once he’s out, I clutch the frame of the hatch and pull myself up…into sand.
I look around, not to find a lake or ocean but what appears to be a city. We approach a tall, angular building. Just before I touch the doorknob, the glass door dissolves in front of us. Once inside, we walk through a lush forest, more lifelike than any I’ve ever seen. That is, until I see a freestanding elevator.
Reggie and I enter, and before I can find a button in the seamless glass capsule, the doors close. As we rush up several stories, a dreamlike world unfolds beneath us. We gently slow to a halt before the doors open. Across a pristine glass floor, I see a massive wooden desk with red-haired woman wearing a teal pantsuit behind it.
Her eyes meet mine, and she automatically rises from the desk and walks to reach me.
“Welcome,” she says, offering her hand to mine. “I’m Jaejain.”
“Where am I?”
“You’re in Ticonae.” She smiles and, placing her hand behind my elbow, leads me forward. We walk down a wide hallway, and when we reach the last wooden door, a small tray folds out. Jaejain take my hand and rests it on the tray. I watch as a green laser traces around each finger and then illuminates my entire hand from beneath. Three chimes ring before the tray retracts.
“Welcome, Meredith,” the door chirps.
“You’ll see,” she replies, as we enter a spacious room, larger than my house. Bypassing the luxurious furniture and artistic features, I walk straight to the glass wall, on which Reggie presses his nose.
I look out to see the surrounding buildings, similar in style to this one but not nearly as tall. Beyond the city is an infinite ocean, with sparkling iridescence.
“What continent are we on?” I ask, my eyes spanning the horizon.
“None. Ticonae is a world, separate from earth,” she answers while meeting me at the window.
“Earth became uninhabitable.”
“What are you talking about? How?” My pulse quickens.
“It became too dangerous.”
“Global warming? Pollution?”
“No,” she says, turning to me. “People.”
“What do you mean?”
“There was no distinction between war and non-war anymore. Not only were humans suffering, but other creatures as well.”
“Then, how did we get here?”
“Let’s sit down. We’ll have some tea.” She leads me to a nearby table on which are two steaming fresh cups of tea. I suddenly realize how thirsty I am and eagerly bring the cup to my mouth.
“A group of people joined to find a solution. Some were physicists, others were engineers…The earth was too far down the path of self-destruction to allow for peace.” She leisurely drinks her tea. “So they devised a new world where all creatures live harmoniously…Ticonae.”
“I’ve never heard of that planet.”
“Ticonae isn’t a planet.” She takes another sip.“It’s an alternate reality.”
“But it all seems so real…”
“I don’t have all the answers you seek. However, here’s something that does.” She pulls a book out from under the table and places it in my hands.
Creating Ticonae is written in silver across the front of the black, heavy book.
I flip open to the first page to find a photograph. The woman, white haired with glasses, seems oddly familiar to me. I study her outfit, futuristic like Jaejain’s, but something’s out of place. Her necklace. Simultaneously, I trail my hand down to the one I’m wearing, an identical jade elephant pendant on a silver chain.
“You are the leader…the mastermind behind Ticonae.”
“That’s impossible! I’m not a physicist or engineer…or anything like that.”
“No, but you’re a visionary. You devote your entire life to giving others an opportunity for peace.”
“I’ll leave you alone to read while I prepare the celebration.”
“Celebration? I don’t need a celebration…”
“The people of Ticonae have been looking forward to this day for quite some time. Essentially, it’s the birth of Ticonae.”
Before I can argue, she vanishes. I spot a chair off to the side, overlooking Ticonae. As I settle into its luxurious cushion, Reggie lies beside me. I open the book again, this time to the second page, filled with familiar handwriting.
I know this is a lot to process. Though, you must trust Jaejain. After all, I hired her to prepare you for this mission. The two most important tools you’ll need are your compassionate intuition and this book. Do enjoy the celebration tonight, as it holds comparable significance to your independence day. Afterward, be sure to take this book with you and implement the plan once you’ve returned to 2014. I must warn you. There will be moments when you come dangerously close to giving up. At those times, remember all you’ve seen today. Never forget the beauty of a peaceful world and the loving people who got another chance to live because of your dedication and perseverance.
***I extend my deepest gratitude for giving this a read. Like I said, I was seriously considering not submitting anything this week, as I’ve found myself in this weird state in which I can barely collect my thoughts, much less put them on a page. I do hope it brought you some enjoyment. If not, I offer my sincerest apologies and hope that you’ll give me another chance next week!