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Editor’s Note: I am STILL in Patagonia, Arizona so I wrote a short story for the May issue of the OSN. Ill be back soon. I hope you like reading it.
By Hilde Kate Lysiak
Emma sat on her floor scrolling on her phone. She opened her text application and texted her friend, Cara.
when will you be here?
Emma opened up her phone again. This time to a web page. On the page was a picture of two happy little kids playing outside in the sun. The headline read THE TRUTH BEHIND OUR HISTORY. She read for a few minutes and glanced at a gas mask in the corner of her room. It was blue with green flowers on it. Her doorbell rang. She rushed downstairs. She opened the door. In came Cara. Cara took off her gas mask.
It was pink with emoji’s. She hung her mask up on the hangers. You could almost not see the hangers because of their color. They were light blue and had pink flowers and purple roses on them. They also had hot pink stars.. The color of the wall was also blue. She never liked the color of her walls. They always looked so plain to her. Just like everything else in her life. Plain. When she put the hangers in her room, they did not look like just random hangers. They were a burst of color. A burst of light. A burst of something different.
“I think we should go on a walk,” Cara said.
“Ok…I mean…I guess a walk would be nice. We could walk to your house,” Emma responded.
“I am also a little bit hungry, so maybe we could get a snack first,” Cara said calmly.
They both got up quickly and decided to get a snack. Even though they had just eaten and they were not hungry, they finished off two boxes of Milano peppermint cookies.
“Lets go on a walk now,” Emma said when they finished their snack.
They walked to the other side of town. Where Cara lived.
“Oh my gosh,” Cara said.
“What?” said Emma.
“Look at the clock,” Cara said.
They both directed their eyes to a 350 foot wooden clock. The clock was in the town square.
“It is almost two O’clock,” Emma said.
“We have to run. Quick! Now!” Cara said.
2:00. It was looked at as an hour of memory at first. A an hour of remembering how people got to this wonderful place in the world. Or, at least, that is what Emma’s mom told her and Cara. But not every one liked this society. So those people would come out and kill at that time. No one even remembered what they were remembering.
They both ran and ran until they reached Cara’s house.
When the got inside, Cara’s mom was standing outside the door angrily with one hand pointed to her watch. They both apologized.
“I—we— are really, really sorry. Me and Emma did not know what time it was and then we found out and we ran. We ran and ran as fast as we could,” Cara said.
“Did your mother warn you about the danger of going out, Emma?” Cara’s mom asked.
“Well, um, no,” Emma said looking down.
“Ok, then. I will have to have a talk with her. Thank you, Emma. You may both go upstairs. I am going to your house, Emma, to talk with your mother. I will be back in a few hours,” Cara’s mom said.
They went into Cara’s room and played monopoly.
When they finished, it was not dark. But way past when the town curfew was. It was about 7’oclock. The curfew was at 4. Two hours after the dark hour. The secret hour. Or some even called it the awful hour.
Just then, Cara glanced at the time.
After Cara showed Emma the time, they both ran trying to not make a sound. They cleaned up the monopoly game. They just crumbled up the money and threw it in the box. They ran into their beds, throwing the pillows on the floor and tossing back the blankets. They hopped into their beds and pretended to be asleep.
They saw the flash of lights outside and knew it was time. They heard the footsteps on Cara’a porch. Heard the screen door open. Then the second door.
They both sat on their beds with their eyes closed. Trying to be as still and silent as they could. They just laid there hoping that the people would think they were asleep. Who knew what would happen to them if it was discovered that they broke the law? Maybe they would be burned alive. Maybe they would be electrocuted. Even though they only missed one curfew, there could be crazy punishments.
Emma and Cara fell into a dark sleep.
They woke to the sound of foot steps through the living room. What could have happened? Cara had set an alarm for three O’clock. Why did they not hear it? Did it not go off at all? Was her phone broken?
Then they heard the foot steps getting closer and closer. UP the stairs. Through the upstairs hallway. Then, they saw the light. They knew what it was from—their flashlights. They closed their eyes tighter. Then the door opened. The flashlights circled the room. Then Emma twitched her hand.
The lady with the flashlight walked over and pulled the covers off Emma’s head. Cara, however, was still pretending to be asleep in fear of punishment. Cara did not say one word.
“I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am just a kid. Please. Please. Please, do not hurt me. I am just a kid,” Emma franticly screamed.
“It is okay. You can relax now. I am Luna,” said the women with the flash light, “I mean you no harm. It is okay.”
“Are you going to burn me? Or take me to jail? Or some other awful thing like electrocution? Please don’t! I am only a little kid,” Emma said.
“No, of course not, Emma,” Luna said.
“How…how do you know my name?” Emma said.
“I know everyone’s name,” Luna said, tapping Emma’s nose. “It is my job. It is also my job to make sure everyone is safe and following the rules. You are not. Do not worry cause you will be soon. Every one will be. I can see .you are scared. You should not be. I am your friend. I am here to help you not hurt you.”
“So I am not going to be burned alive?” Emma said smiling.
“Of course not,” Luna said laughing, “Just follow me.”
“Where?” Emma asked.
“Do not worry about that. It is okay. You are safe with me. You might not trust me, but you should. It is my job to walk around all night checking peoples’ houses. I am a very good person. YOU are the one who messed up. I can really affect your life in a bad way. I will HELP you. NOT hurt you. We are friends, remember? You know what friends do…they help each other. Do not question me. ,” Luna said.
“I just want to know where you are taking me before I go,” Emma said.
“You are right. I am sorry. We are going back. Back home, in your case. 2022, March, Louisiana,” Luna said.
“2022? No. I do not want to. What do you mean home? That is not my home. Walnut Street is. 5022. Not that time, or place or whatever,” Emma said.
“It is okay. Do not be afraid. Come and everything will be fine. But everything will only be fine if you come with me. To your home. This is something you should want. It might be 3000 years ago, but it will be fun. Do you like it here? Do you really like it in this place? Do you really like it in this time era? This awful place…” Luna said.
“I was not alive before the pollution and explosion,” Emma said.
“Do you like the way people treat you? With such disrespect? Like you are a kid? Like you are a baby… Like you are nothing? Nothing but something that needs to be handled like an object. Like a thing, not a person. Well that is who you are here—an object. But it you come with me I will make you more than that. Do you like having to wear a gas mask every time you leave your house? Having to come inside two hours before curfew? Although… I can see you have no respect for curfew. I can tell them that. I can tell them that you broke the law. You said it yourself—you will be punished. More than punished, burned alive. Or maybe buried alive. Do you want that? Do you want to be killed? Your death would be a spectacle if people found out. They have the rules for a reason. The people who come out at the dark hour are people like you. Criminals. You are a criminal. You are a criminal!” Luna said yelling.
“I am not! The truth was, I was asleep until you came and woke me. It was all your fault for waking me up. You have failed YOUR job. I do not even believe that you have a job. You are just some weird crazy person. You are the criminal. You should be burned or buried alive. Not me, you. Just you!” Emma said.
Luna smiled, wider and wider. Luna and Emma looked at each other for a minute. Then suddenly Luna started laughing historically.
“What? Nothing I said was funny. Why are you laughing? Stop, stop, stop, stop. You are crazy! Not me. You think I am a criminal…well guess what? I am not. You are. You broke into my house in the middle of the night like those people who come out at the awful hour. I would not be in trouble at all. You would. Right?Right. I think… Will they know I was awake already? No they will not. They can not. No, no. You will be in trouble, not me. Not, not me. You will be punished. You say this 2022 is my home but it is not. THIS is my home. I love my home. I am not going with you. Leave or I will call the cops. Leave now,” Emma said.
“You would get in trouble, not me. You were the one who was awake. It is my job to check if you were awake. And you were,” Luna said.
Emma considered all that Luna said. She had to weigh her options. Emma had to admit to herself that she wasn’t sure that Luna was wrong and, if she was right, the consequences were far too horrible to risk.
“Ok. I will go. When do we leave? Next week…next month?” Emma asked.
“Wait! No! Do not go!” Cara said from under her covers. “I am so, so sorry. I was awake the whole time. I am really sorry—I did not know what time it was and we were playing monopoly and lost track of things. Please do not take Emma. Please. Leave us alone! You are crazy! Leave us alone. Please, please leave us alone,” Cara said, panicking.
“Do not worry at all. Emma is coming with me. You have nothing to worry about. You are safe. Completely safe. Nothing is wrong. Emma wants to come with me,” Luna said.
“You are not taking me, though? Why just Emma?” Cara asked, confused.
“Why me? What do I have to do with all this past stuff?” Emma said.
“You should not ask question. Emma, come with me now. We leave now. I am sick of standing here talking. We have to make progress if we want to be there by tomorrow. It takes five hours. We have to leave now. Cara—you stay here,” Luna said.
“How do you know my name?” Cara said.
“I know everyones name…Of course I know your name. Now do you understand that this is all a secret?” Luna said.
“You mean like a lie?” Cara asked.
“Emma would you please wait for me outside? I would like to talk to Cara alone. Make sure you use the back door, so nobody sees you,” Luna said.
“Why?” Emma said.
“Just do it. Once you get outside, walk over a block.” Luna said.
“But what if they see me?” Emma asked.
“They won’t. I will watch you from the window. As I was saying, after you walk a block, you will see a red truck. Get in the back seat of the truck and wait for me there,” Luna said.
“Okay, but I will not stay. I will go wherever you are taking me for a few minutes, then I will go home,” Emma said.
Emma slowly and quietly walked out the door. She felt terrible for leaving Cara behind but, then again, figured that she was probably saving her from going by going herself.
“Cara, it is not like lying. It is just not telling. But if you do not tell then nothing bad will happen,” Luna said.
“Well what if I do?” Cara said.
“Then we will have a problem. I would like to avoid that. So do as I say and do not tell any one,” Luna said.
“What about my family and my friends? My dog and my doll? I love them all and never keep secrets from them,” Cara said.
“No one. Or else we will have a problem,” Luna said.
Luna went out to the truck where Emma lay waiting. She got in, started the engine and then drove in six circles. Although Luna said it would take five hours, it seemed like no time had passed at all. They were there. In 2022.
The time read 1:00. Emma was surprised that it looked the same. The grand clock in the town square was still there. It just looked better and newer. Everything looked basically the same, but newer. And it also was like a city. Not a small town. It was all so similar but at the same time there were so many people.
“Do you like it?” Luna asked.
“Yes, I love it. It is so different. So free. It looks like there are no rules. It probably has a curfew of like seven O’clock or something crazy late like that. Oh my gosh, this is amazing! Being here makes me realize how much I hated it before. All the rules, all the awful restrictions. This is my home— it really is, and I am never going back. Never ever,” Emma said skipping and running around, looking at all the people.
“Do you not remember yet?” Luna asked with a troubled look on her face.
“Remember what?” Emma said slowing down her skipping, but still smiling.
Luna quickly picked up her phone and put it to her ear.
“Maybe when she sees herself she will remember the experiment,” Luna said. Then a women walked up to a podium.
“There she is now,” Luna said, hanging up the phone.
Emma watched in absolute horror as the woman took to the podium.
“I, Emma Samuel, have a few things to go over. We will now have a better society. We will now have a curfew of 4:00 for children. With this rule we will make our society a better place to be. What do our children need all that freedom for anyway? To get in trouble? To do irresponsible things in the name of fun? Seems to me, we are just asking for an unsafe, crime filled world if we let our young people just move around freely. That is a world of dread. We cannot afford to risk this for our world. We can escape this world of dread by following this very important rule. To make sure the curfew is followed, I will send people in to make sure all children are home and asleep in their beds well before two o’clock. We will change this awful world,” The woman said, “A year of greatness this will be. 2022,” The woman said.