Tagged: time machine

Unicorn

Dear Planet Earth,

“Hey, Exterminator.”

I looked up from my cold rice and beans to see Rachel‘s deceptively angelic face staring back.

“Don’t call me that,” I said.

“Why not? It’s a cool name.” She sat down on the stool across from me. “When I was a kid, I wanted my mom to change my name to ‘Unicorn,’ but she said that was stupid.”

I almost asked that ten year old when she thought she stopped being a kid. I almost asked her where her mother was.

“Look what I got.” Her eyes lit up and she reached inside her shirt. She pulled out a long bullet hanging around a dog tag chain. “It’s one of their bullets. Santiago put the holes in it for me.”

I went back to eating my gruel, tried to avoid looking at the giant projectile.

“Oh, and you can have your book back.” She pulled out the copy of The Time Machine from her messenger bag and slid it toward me. My father used to read it to me every night. “It was kind of boring.”

I laughed, weakly. “Compared with reality, yeah, I guess so.”

She abruptly stood up and saluted me. She had other errands to run, more adults to vex.

“Bye, Exterminator.”

Strength is the outcome of need, my father would read to me. Security sets a premium on feebleness.

Innocent Eyes

Dear Planet Earth,

My sources tell me that we’re probably going to be bunking at the library here for at least another week. The general’s scouts may or may not have seen the entirety of Fort Kross reduced to smoldering rubble. If mole people are out there with crazy snake drills that can tear apart trucks in a matter of seconds, maybe we don’t want to try to leave.

On the upside, I am feeling slightly more accepted in our rag-tag group. Today I even had an awkward conversation with the little wretch — aptly named Rachel — who stole my laptop. She’s not so much of “wretch,” as she is just another ten year old girl who mistakes her own annoying questions for adorability. Maybe she’s eleven. I’m not good with ages.

“What’cha doin’?”

I peered over the top of my computer to see the source of the inquisition, then instinctively clutched it to my chest after recognizing who it was.

“I’m not going to steal it,” she said. “I know you’re not one of them now.”

I relaxed my grip and continued my work on the laptop. I could still feel her watching me.

“My name’s Rachel. I’m sorry for stealing your computer.”

There was at least a minute of her big, blue eyes on me until I broke.

“My name’s Scott. I’m tired of getting fake apologies from kids for stealing my stuff.”

I glanced up quickly to see those innocent eyes fill up with moisture. I saw another scared child, unsure and unprepared for whatever’s coming next.

“I’m looking up more information about this book.” I picked up The Time Machine.

“I know that one,” she said. “I saw the movie.”

“It’s a little different,” I said, trying to keep the snobbery in my voice as low as possible.

“Can I borrow it when you’re done?”

I examined her face again, her ridiculously large eyes now devoid of any proof of prior conflict. I chuckled.

“Sure.”

She said I could borrow her Harry Potter book.

Complex Recondition

Dear Planet Earth,

The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.

So begins H. G. Wells’ famous novel The Time Machine. My father used to read it to me every night. It’s one of the few books I really like, and I figured I might as well read something here if no one will talk to me.

The first words seem so simple — well, if you skip “recondite.” They lay out the whole plot right there in the very first sentence. We know who the characters are. We know how the story will be told. We know how complex it will be (did you look up “recondite” yet?).

But in the real world we know nothing. We don’t know why the mole people are attacking us. We don’t know how they have such advanced technology. We don’t know how to fight back. If we can fight back.

In the real world there are no time machines, no easy answers to conflicts beyond our normal understanding of how the world works. We just have to wait for the next chapter.

The Wrong People

Dear Planet Earth,

I’m left with even more questions after my 20 hour debriefing than I had yesterday. I was again taken to my canvas tent cell where General Talpa again gave his one-man rendition of good cop/bad cop.

He said the tech gurus couldn’t find anything in my broken walkie talkie but dead circuit boards and batteries. He was convinced that it must be a symbol for something else, and he made me retell every memory I had about walkie talkies and my father. I told him the same thing I tell everyone about my father.

“He was just another dead beat dad. An aging hippie who couldn’t handle the pressures of a career and family. My mom said he got into drugs and made connections with the wrong people, and that’s all I ever wanted to know about him.”

“And what about The Time Machine?” Talpa asked. “You said he read it to you every night?”

“Yeah, but . . . I’ve gone over these same questions a dozen times already in my head.” I rubbed my eyes, hoping for sleep or wakefulness to finally arrive. “You guys probably know more than I do. You’re the ones with that damn list.”

They let me go a few interrogations later, even gave me the stupid walkie talkie. But I know they’re watching me; some of Talpa’s scouts have been eyeing me in the mess hall, offering to escort me back to my tent. They’re probably reading this blog.

Well, boys, I don’t know shit. As soon as I do remember some tiny clue from my past that could explain every crazy thing that’s happened so far, you’ll be the first ones to know. Whether I want it or not.

Found and Lost

Dear Planet Earth,

I found her — Martha. We were all feeling a little more at ease with the sirens and floodlights finally off, so I was understandably calm last night walking back from the mess hall when I saw something glinting near some plastic containers. I went to check it out and found my naive stupidity embodied in a Beretta M-9 pistol staring me in the face.

“Wait! Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me!” What else was I supposed to say?

I could make out her gaunt, dirty features from the moonlight. She looked like my elementary school librarian if she had been starved and tortured for a week. She studied my face for several seconds and then motioned with her gun for me to come closer.

“Who are you?” she croaked.

“Scott. My name’s Scott. I’m not a soldier.”

She nodded and lowered her gun.

“No. You’re not.” The woman rummaged through a pink fanny pack hanging loosely from her waist. “You’re just a dumb kid mixed up in something bigger than any of us. I don’t give two shits about you, but it’s not really up to me, is it?” She took out an old walkie talkie and made me clasp my fingers around it.

“What –”

“When it happens, when you get the call, do everything they tell you to do.”

She stood up and trained her gun on me again.

“Don’t think, just act. Remember what he taught you, Scott.”

She started walking backwards to the fences, to her freedom.

“‘Strength is the outcome of need,'” she said before disappearing into the darkness.

“‘Security sets a premium on feebleness,'” I completed.

It’s from my favorite book, The Time Machine. My father used to read it to me every night.

Easy

Dear Planet Earth,

I said goodbye to Diana today. I propped her up against a tree and said a few words about her out loud. I wept like a baby. I tried to remember everything she ever said to me, what defined her as a human being and how she became an important part of my life in ten short days.

When she was really starting to go yesterday, Diana said she was a fraud. She said her name wasn’t really Diana Sunday and she was never a student at UNLV. Phyllis O’Conner was just another deadbeat post-teen working at Blockbuster when the tremors started and she realized she could make herself whoever she wanted. She was sorry, she said. She said I didn’t have to blame myself for her death because she never really existed.

But things are never that easy.

I’m heading toward the mysterious object outside the city, just like Diana and I planned to do last week. Judging by the number of cars on the road, I’m not the only one.

The dust is starting to clear around it, showing some very weird features. I don’t know if this is a satellite, an alien spaceship, or even a time machine. I only know that whatever it is, it’s inextricably linked to these crazy phenomena all across the globe and those homeless people were willing to kill to keep us from it.

I checked the back of the Hummer today and found it filled with assault rifles, body armor, hand grenades, and plastic explosives. I’m a grieving, hormone-filled teen with murder on the mind. Those bastards better hope I run out of gas.