Winner, August 2012 KidPub Writing Contest
It had to be the dullest day of my life. My friends and I were in a summer school program, learning advanced math with the world’s worst, meanest teacher -- Mrs. Rude. She always wore strange, black clothes and had red, frizzy hair. As usual, I tuned out of her lesson and scooted my seat back, not only to get away from my nose-picking seat partner, but to check the clock.
“Five minutes!” whispered one of my best friends, Rhiannon. I signaled a “thanks!” to her and then stared into space for quite sometime.
“Get outta here, kids. Three o’clock! Beat it!” Mrs. Rude commanded. Rhiannon and I were the first to leave the room, and following us were our other friends, Jade and Isabella.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait much longer for school.” Jade said.
“Yeah, I know how you feel. Apples, anyone?” I asked, pulling out my snack from my black and white tote bag.
“No thanks, my brain is fried. Now is not a time to eat healthy.” Rhiannon grunted as we all headed down the street.
Isabella stared at the ground, like what she does when she’s concentrating.
“Hey, a penny! Oh, it’s heads up… make that a lucky penny!” she exclaimed, pocketing the coin in her skinny jeans. I smiled, and before long, a medium sized brick house stood in front of us. We were at my house at last!
“Phew, I thought I was gonna get heatstroke!” Jade gasped, yanking the door open and collapsing on the couch. I poured us all lemonades, took a seat on my dad’s recliner, and watched Rhiannon open up a fashion magazine.
“Izzy, can I take a look at that penny for a moment? I always draw faces on Abraham Lincoln’s silhouette when I’m bored.” I said.
“Sure thing, girl. You can keep it, too.” Isabella said, dropping the penny on my palm. I twirled the rusted coin around and around in my hand, then noticed the year on the penny- 2017!
“OH MY GOSH!” I screamed. My friends all jumped up at the same time.
“What was that for?” screeched Jade.
“This penny says 2017!” I murmured, standing up slowly, like how they do in the movies.
“Stop, Alexis, we all know time traveling is impossible,” Isabella replied. She grabbed the coin to make sure. “Wait, wait, wait. The year on it is 2017! What now?”
“How about we put it in a box and bury it underground, then something magical might happen!” Rhiannon suggested.
“Let’s get to it.” Jade commanded. Rhiannon said she’d locate a box, Isabella would use her nature techniques to find a soft spot in the soil, Jade was going to get gloves, and I fetched a couple shovels for the digging.
“Wow, it was not easy lugging these things in 80 degree weather.” I panted, throwing the tools on the dirt.
“When we find out what’s up, you’ll wish you brought many more shovels!” Isabella joked. A little while later, Jade and Rhiannon appeared with a small, ideally sized cardboard box and four pairs of gloves. We slipped on the gloves and took turns trying to make a hole.
“You take a try, Alexis. I think this is impossible!” Jade said, handing me the shovel. I jabbed the tool in the crumbly, yet moist soil and put all my weight on it.
“Yes! I feel a hole trying to break free!” I squealed, when suddenly, my shovel got the best of me and I was thrown backwards.
“I GOTCHA, DON’T WORRY, ALEXIS, RHIANNON TO THE RESCUE!” Rhiannon yelled, trying to catch me. Her plan backfired, and a split second later, we found ourselves in a dog pile in the muddy ground.
“Ew… not fun.” I said, spitting out mud.
“Well at least there’s a hole there big enough to fit the Jolly Green Giant!” Isabella and Jade laughed, helping Rhiannon and me to our feet. I grabbed chunks of mud and threw them down. Nasty!
“Anyway, let’s continue our plan!” Rhiannon chimed, ignoring the fact that she was caked in mud. I shrugged and dropped the penny in the box, then plopped the box itself in the hole.
“Ah…perfect.” I smiled.
“What next, guys?” Jade wondered.
“We gotta patch up that hole and wait overnight.” Isabella instructed. With all four of us working together, we managed to patch up the gap in about ten minutes.
“Yay! I’m so excited!” I giggled impatiently. “Maybe you guys can spend the night at my place!”
“I’ll call my mom and ask. It’s summer, so she’ll probably agree to it.” Isabella explained.
“Me, too!” Rhiannon said.
“Me, three!” Jade copied.
The three of them raced inside my house to call their parents. I stood alone, outside, on the soil. Suddenly, I heard a mysterious sound -- almost like a voice!
“Tomorrow will be……the day that changes your life…forever! Hahahaha…” the voice said.
“Whoa, what?” I shuddered.
I slapped my ear to make sure I was hearing correctly. Unfortunately, yes, I was.
“You heard me. You just know it’s true, girl…”
“Ugh, ok, you’re creeping me out! Stop! Where are you, anyway?” I asked the voice.
“I’m not telling until 2017…”
That was all I heard, because my friends came sprinting outside.
“They ALL said yes!” my friends said.
“Cool! Now I’ll inform my parents.” I said, dialing my mom’s number on the home phone. As always, she accepted, and my friends and I chose to arrange our sleeping equipment.
“I think we should sleep downstairs. It’s super comfy!” Jade offered.
“Why not? YOLO-you only live once, right?” I replied
“Totally!” Rhiannon and Isabella said, and then, we laid out blankets and pillows on the carpet next to the TV.
This was going to be a strange night… I could feel it in my bones.
My friends and I waited until my mom came home to order dinner -- a delicious pepperoni and extra sausage, king sized pizza!
“It’s either this pizza is super yummy, or I’m really hungry!” Jade remarked.
“That’s normal -- digging holes in backyards and burying a box in the soil isn’t easy.” I joked. After that, we all finished up the last of our drinks and headed downstairs to paint our nails and play “Monopoly”, our favorite board game.
“Alexis, one of your friends is at the door and wants to talk to you!” my mom yelled. I shuddered and asked Isabella if she’d come with me. As usual, she agreed, but I could tell all my friends were a little suspicious what was going on. The girl standing at the door looked kind of… different, but I couldn’t really tell why. She had skin the color of my teeth, half her hair was straight, and the other side was curly.
“Hi, if I could say something in private for a minute with you, that would be great!” the girl said, pulling me out the door. She had cold, icy hands that sent a shiver down my spine. I knew Isabella was thinking the same thing as me- “s-t-r-a-n-g-e”. I quickly gestured to Isabella, “don’t just leave me here with this alien!” and luckily, Isabella understood.
“Just a quick question- why does your shirt say, ‘Future Boutique- established in 2020’?” Isabella observed.
“That’s not what you see. Your mind is just… uh… just playing tricks with you, little girl!” the odd girl giggled nervously.
“Really.” With that, Isabella exited the house through the back door, so no one could see. I noticed she ducked through the trash area and was eavesdropping from behind a bush.
“Anyway, my name is Girl. Something tonight is going to change you and your friends’ lives.” Girl said. She had a mighty abnormal name. That was for sure.
“Hey, I’ve figured this out long before you came here. Something’s happening that has to do with 2017,” I pointed out. “Just look at your shirt. Also, when my friends and I found that penny, the year was 2017. You look like you’re from 2017. Nice job trying to execute the portrayal of a human.”
“Fine, then, kid -- I’ll make sure something else occurs, just to get back at you for your snide remarks!” Girl cackled, then floated away to thin air.
“I have one word- WOW. Now what do we do?” Isabella gasped, returning from her hideout.
“Tell Rhiannon and Jade, then stay up all night waiting for that one thing,” I suggested. Isabella and I bolted inside the house to inform the others.
“I am sure about one thing- none of us can pull an all-nighter. We’ve all done it before, but we’re all tired,” Jade pointed out. Rhiannon had already drifted to sleep sitting up against the couch.
“Someone’s exhausted!” we laughed at the same time. I held open Rhiannon’s temporary sleeping bag, as Isabella and Jade managed to carry Rhiannon and plop her down.
“Goodnight, guys, I’m gonna try to sleep,” I said.
“Sleep tight,” Jade whispered.
“See you in the morning,” Isabella responded. “Let me add -- I think we didn’t brush our teeth or change into pajamas. Also, it’s only 9:30pm.”
“GOODNIGHT!” Jade said, elbowing Isabella.
That night, I was up until around 11:45 pm, texting my cousin random thoughts. I stopped at 11:57, after getting no response for 12 minutes.
“Whatever,” I said to myself. I set an alarm for 8am, then tossed and turned in my sleeping bag. The clock showed 11:59pm -- in one minute a life changing event would happen! Then, I really, really tried to fall asleep. Lucky for me, it worked at literally the 11th hour!
I woke up the next morning right when my alarm sounded its obnoxious series of “BEEP”s.
“Rhiannon? Jade? Isabella? You guys up yet?” I asked my friends.
“Now I am!” Jade remarked. “Did anything happen?”
“Not yet, at least…,” I sighed.
“Good morning!” Rhiannon and Isabella said, just waking up.
Suddenly, the whole room went black and started spinning!
“YOU KNOW, I DON’T DO WELL WITH FAST MOTION!” Jade screamed. I clutched onto a firm object -- it was either Isabella’s leg or a chair.
“What’s happening? Are we going to time travel like Girl said yesterday?” Rhiannon hollered.
“WE CAN ONLY HOPE NOT!” I replied, ducking my head under my arm. Soon, the spinning stopped, but the room was still pitch black.
“Everyone ok?” Isabella asked us.
“Fine,” we said.
“Good, now I’m finding a flashlight,” she said, scouring the room for a source of light. The light switch didn’t work, and I heard some crashing noises, like Isabella accidentally bumped into something.
“Well, ouch, wall! What did I ever do to you?” she spat. I couldn’t help but giggle. My friends were really trying to make the best out of this situation!
“Aha! Found a flashlight.” Isabella piped.
“I must note that that object will not be necessary!” a voice said. It sounded like Girl!
“Girl, what are you doing here?” Rhiannon said in an impatient and sassy tone.
“The question is, why are you here? Oh, I remember! I’m trying to torture you in the year 2017! Haha!” cackled Girl.
“Whatever, person, release us to your world of the future and let’s get this over with!” I suggested, standing up and confronting Girl. Wow, was she short! She was about 3’5”. I had to actually BEND DOWN to talk to her with eye-contact.
“Height isn’t everything.” Girl grumbled. “Anyway, step outside. Only this room of your home remains, by the way.” My friends and I dashed outside the screen door and looked around. In place of my neighbors’ homes were large, flamboyant high-tech homes made out of metal, with 20,000,000 miniscule buttons.
“It’s called the ‘technology year’ for something, old folks.” Girl said, spotting the looks on our faces. Rhiannon pushed her out of the way and we walked up the driveway and explored some more.
“Wow, things have changed around here. I’m going to see if Emily still lives in the house next door!” I said, running across the steel yard, where grass once grew. Seeing so many buttons to push overwhelmed me. It was impossible to find the doorbell, so I pushed everything in sight. The garage opened up, the sprinklers went off, the mail shot out of the mail box, and a lot more unusual things happened, so finally I decided to knock.
“What do you want?” a gruff sounding voice said through the door.
“Does Emily live here?” I asked sweetly.
“Ok, sir, thank you for your help.” I said and ran back to my house.
“This place sure is different. Overwhelming, almost,” Isabella pointed out.
“You can say that again!” said Jade.
“This place sure is different. Overwhelming, almost,” Isabella repeated, and we all burst into hysterics, even though we’d heard that joke about 50 times.
“Anyway, how about we investigate like Nancy Drew?” Rhiannon suggested.
“Sure! What first? Should we see if there is even ANY greenery nowadays?” I replied.
“Ok. Hey, remember when we used to try to find peacocks and we’d smash grapefruits from the old lady neighbor’s tree?” Isabella giggled.
“Of course I do!” Jade exclaimed.
“Wait, wait, ladies! Come here.” Girl demanded, pointing her slender, pale finger towards a spot in the middle of the road.
“Oh no, now what’s happening? Are we going to be kidnapped or something?” Jade panicked.
“Don’t make it sound ugly, Fade!” Girl chuckled. Even her laugh was evil…
“My name’s Jade. Say it with me, now, Jade.” Jade said very slowly.
“Whatever. I think my vehicle is here!” sang Girl. Out of nowhere, an obnoxious, impractical, atrocious rocket ship appeared from the puffy, white clouds up above. “Fade, Lexis, Isabel, Rhianna, hop in.”
“When will she ever learn?” Jade whispered to me. I shrugged and stepped inside the rocket first. It was small and cramped. The rocket was square, about 3 by 3 feet. To make matters worse, the people steering this thing had chairs glued to the side of the rocket ship about four feet above us, and I happened to stand right under them. By the time my friends climbed in, I had seriously no breathing room! When Girl joined us (did I mention she smelled like gasoline?), my cheek was smashed against the wall and I thought I was going to pass out if I stayed in this place any longer. Unfortunately, Jade, Isabella, and Rhiannon were feeling the same way. You should’ve seen their faces! Why would anyone want to travel like this?
“We will be arriving in my house any second. I’ll give you a tour and show you where I want the work to be done.” Girl announced in a bossy tone.
“As long as we get back to 2012!” Rhiannon said. Girl rolled her eyes, and we all waited in silence for about five more minutes, until the rocket landed with a hard “thump”.
“It is now safe to exit the vehicle.” Girl said in a proper tone. Outside, a huge -- we’re talking 60,000 square feet castle -- no, palace -- stood in front of us.
“Whoa…” Isabella marveled. Honestly, I was speechless. This place was amazingly enormous.
“Here’s my home. I’m starting to think I’d rather live in the White House. Oh, I forgot, my house is practically bigger than the White House! Silly me!” Girl said.
“Show us around already, will you?” Rhiannon yawned.
“Fine. I will proceed to the entrance,” Girl walked confidentially, as if she was six feet tall, to the door of her home. We passed security guards who didn’t question our arrival since we were with Girl.
“Are you sure you can open that door?” said Isabella, trying to intake the eight foot, all glass door. It had a brass handle and also a brass doorbell.
“No, in 2017, whether you live in a shack or mansion, you always have someone to open the door. Think of it as a tradition. Hey, Bill, Fred, I’m home!” bellowed Girl. Immediately, two men swung the doors open, revealing a lobby sort of room. In the back was a table with a pitcher of coffee, cream, sugar, and treats like cookies. To the left stood a lady, dressed very formally, behind a marble-colored desk. There was a hallway on the right side of the room, blocked by another set of security guards. Girl headed to the left to “check in” to her house. My friends and I stood by the refreshments and gulped down some caffeinated coffee (since our moms weren’t here, they’d never find out) and munched on cookies.
“I’ve got to learn this recipe!” Isabella exclaimed, tasting a cookie. Her hobbies were cooking, making crafts, playing with her dogs, and Isabella sort of things. Girl came skipping back towards us.
“I need to be somewhere in two hours, 37 minutes, and 56 seconds EXACTLY, or my chances of being crowned Miss 2017 will be over. The tour of this castle takes approximately six hours and requires lots and lots of walking, so I’m not showing ya’ll around. Follow me, though,” instructed Girl. Jade, Isabella, Rhiannon, and I followed Girl through the security guards, down three sets of winding staircases, and into a room with 14 tunnels (I counted) all leading to different places. Girl used her finger to figure out which tunnel was correct.
“Ugh, where’s my GPS when I need it?” muttered Girl. “Ok, I remember learning about this one in history class.” She carefully walked through the tunnel to the left hand side. After another set of steps, we arrived in a disgusting, filthy, dusty cavern-like room that smelled….not so fresh.
“Where are we?” Rhiannon asked, coughing out a puff of dust.
“We’re in the old dungeon of the delinquents who first ended up in jail, got a downgrade, got kicked out of the downgraded room, expelled from the castle, and illegally stayed here. I want you to take these and revive the place. I want you to sweep, mop, deodorize, and whatever else these tools are for. I’m thinking of keeping the palace horses down here.” Girl handed my friends and I 409 Spray, Windex, a broom, a mop, Febreeze air fresheners, and more from a hidden cabinet on the wall. “Cleaning tools of the future.” She added with a wink. Girl headed towards the door when Jade stopped her.
“This is so unfair! I thought I’d actually be able to look around at some rooms of your 2017 dream home! I didn’t plan to clean a dungeon. This just can’t be done -- the floor isn’t tile. How long are we going to clean this for? I want to at least see your bedroom,” Jade objected.
“First of all, you guys are the visitors, not the royalty. You do what I say, and I said to clean this place! I don’t care how long it takes. Here, I’ll show you a digital tour of my room,” Girl said, as if it was a tremendous deal. She pulled out the rare type of iPhone that Apple sells to selected people- the purple iPhone 360. The iPhone 360 had a movie maker that sent anything you record to a publisher, who then publishes your video as a real movie, and the movie ends up in Blockbuster and Netflix. It also had a People-Search app, Credit Card app (you’d just scan your iPhone 360 when you had to use your normal Credit Card for free), and so much more! Isabella’s jaw dropped and she stared at me signaling, “OH MY GOSH, SHE DID NOT JUST OWN THAT!” I tried really hard not to laugh at her expression.
“Darn, it looks like there’s no reception down here -- only Wi-Fi that I forgot the password to. Oh well… stop by next time, girlies!” Girl bounced away and locked the door to the dungeon.
“OH… GREAT! Now what?” I questioned. “I’m not going to sit here and clean, that’s for sure,” Rhiannon nodded her head dumped all the soapy water out of the bucket, so she could sit on it.
“I have my iPod with me. I think I can produce some light with my Flashlight app!” Isabella said. “Aha, got it!” she beamed the flashlight at the ground. As she swirled it around and around, I noticed something on the floor.
“Hey, Izzy, can I have a look at that?” I asked my friend.
“If you’re going to make another discovery like the penny story, go ahead!” Isabella passed me her iPod, and I shined it on the spot where I saw something. It was a map and a thinned-out paper underneath it! Excitedly, I picked it up and carefully fingered the cursive writing. My friends huddled around me as I showed them the map first.
“According to this, we’re in the dungeon, like Girl said. For once, that’s what I believed from her. To get outside… oh! Here’s the secret passage! If we go 25 paces right, 30 paces forward, and 19 to the right again, we’ll arrive in front of a hidden door.” I read. “Let’s do it!” I counted out our steps and navigated the others. Just as the map said, we spotted a passage that looked like a crate. I pried my fingers on the sides of the door, and with my friends’ help, we eventually got it to creak open.
“Now, we must go down the ladder and walk east until we reach a dead end.” Jade lead the way this time, and a wall blocked our way after about two minutes.
“What next, boss?” Isabella asked, saluting me. I continued reciting the directions on the map.
“We have to take a sharp turn west this time until we see a large window. Then, we’ll grab the bat located under the window sill and crack it open. After that we must run for our lives, because the sound echoes and everyone can hear it. Apparently, when the window is broken and we’ve climbed through already, we must pull down the window screen and not use the passage again until the palace’s repair man comes and fixes it. Sounds good!” I said proudly. This was too easy! When the four of us appeared at the window that was indeed massive, I was granted the opportunity to get the bat and shatter the glass.
“We’ll count you in! Hit that window on three. One, two, three!” my friends cheered as I swung the metal bat as hard as I could towards the glass. I quickly covered my face with my arms, so I wouldn’t get shards of glass on my face or in my eyes.
“RUN FOR IT!” I roared, slipping through the small hole. I could hear people inside fretting about thinking the sound was a burglar or whatever else. Outside, we ended up in the back of the garden, which was bigger than my kitchen and living room at home combined! The only disadvantage was that there was no greenery, only metal objects and man-made flowers.
“Oh, 2017 these days… moving on, the map says we need to carefully slide against the wall and just follow it. The gate exit will appear automatically.” Jade read, taking the map from my hands into her own. All four of us leaned against the wall and swiftly tiptoed against it, like what my cousin and I did when we “spied” on our parents.
“I think this is the end! Oh, look, there’s the gate!” Rhiannon whisper-yelled since we were close to the guards, who had very sharp hearing.
“You’re right! Now all we have to do is pass the guards up front. That’s not going to be easy,” I frowned.
“Let’s just make a run for it!” Jade suggested.
“No, Jade, we need a plan of escape. Yours never work. How about if we just run to the bushes and trees, then side-crawl behind the bushes, and we’ll be out, and nobody will see us because we’ll be hidden until the last minute,” Isabella offered.
“I think that’ll work!” Rhiannon and I agreed at the exact same time.
“Ok, then follow my lead!” Isabella ordered. First, she scampered across the driveway and behind a bush. The guards were at the gate with their backs towards us, so they weren’t aware of our plan. “Go!” she mouthed when the coast was clear, and the rest of us trailed behind, slowly but surely.
Eventually, we all made it off of Girl’s property! I was ecstatic that we weren’t still in the dungeon, cleaning the floors like maids.
“Yes, we’re free!” I hollered, throwing my head back and arms up in the air victoriously. My friends copied, and for a few moments, we were just standing all awkwardly in the middle of the sidewalk.
“Ok, how about we do something now? Can I imitate Girl’s voice and haul her rocket?” Jade asked us.
“Sure, go ahead, anything to get us back to my neighborhood,” I said, waiting for something to happen.
“Hey, my ultra-private-awesome-cramped-tight-fantastic vehicle, get down here this instant!” Jade mimicked in a high pitched voice that sounded exactly like Girl’s. Sure enough, the rocket landed, and my friends and I stepped in.
About 20 minutes later, Jade, Isabella, Rhiannon, and I were at my house, trying to decide what to do in order to make it back to 2012.
“Let’s use common sense. If we buried the box with the 2017 penny in it to jump into the future… if we simply take it out of the soil, we’ll return to 2012!” I squeaked happily.
Jade and Rhiannon fetched the supplies we’d need to get the box out, and Isabella and I located the spot the box was buried in. We managed to find it quickly because there was a big partially patched-up dent in my yard. Jade and Rhiannon insisted on removing the box themselves for the bragging rights. They didn’t fail, and we had the box out in a matter of seconds. Again, my friends and I sprinted inside the house before it spun and darkened.
“Caught it right in time!” I panted, grabbing the same chair as before.
“I know how you feel!” Jade responded, just as the room started spinning and became jet black. The spinning stopped after quite a while, actually, and finally, Jade, Isabella, Rhiannon, and I were back to 2012!
“WE’RE BACK, WE’RE BACK, WE’RE BACK!” Rhiannon yelled louder than ever. Her joy was contagious, and soon, all four of us were yelling until our vocal cords hurt.
“I can’t believe it!” I said. “I remember thinking this was the dullest week of my life. It really is strange how we went from students to prove time traveling really does exist. Who would’ve thought?”