The City Never Sleeps At Night

Chapter 1

Posted on: April 22, 2014

Here’s chapter one as promised!


 

“Does everybody know the plan?” Adam asked the group. The other six in the group nodded.

“You got it dude,” Jonathon smirked as he turned on his heel. His job was to find a quick way out of the city and hurry back. If things didn’t work out the way they wanted, they needed a quick escape.

Jonathon, the time-traveling genius friend of theirs, headed toward the Mayan city. His dark brown hair, darkened over the years they had known him, and his electric blue eyes gave him somewhat of a resemblance to Julia. He never stayed in one time period too long for reasons he never explained. The guy was more mystery than anything else and he liked it that way. Better to keep everything secret than to complicate things with the truth.

Falling into line with him was Candy, his girlfriend of two years. It was surprising how she had lost most of the baby weight in three months. Training for this very day was quite the work-out. Her bleach blonde hair pulled up in a high pony tail without a hair out of place. Her slick black suit hugged her tiny figure but did not hide the old aura surrounding her. Being born in the 1820’s and living in the 2100’s for the past few years does that to a person. There was no telling where her three-month old son Michael was right now.

Jonathon slipped his hand in hers as they walked down the pathway back toward the city. Julia smiled. She couldn’t help it. Their love story was so beautiful. Any girl had the right to be jealous of the two.

As they walked away, Julia turned to Lynn, who gave her a hug. A strange occurrence all on its own. Her black hair was pulled back in a braid similar to the one Julia saw Jennifer Lawrence sport in the Hunger Games movie earlier in the year. Her darker skin and calculating grey eyes gave her the Indian warrior princess look. Lynn was one of the fiercest fighters Julia had ever known and she was glad to have her on their side, and as a friend.

Next was Rachel, who pulled Julia into a tight hug. “You come back to me, okay?” She whispered into her ear. Rachel’s curly, recently dyed strawberry blonde hair was falling out of her loose ponytail. Her brown eyes were holding back tears. Julia held on to her best friend for a little while longer before letting go. Every extra second delayed the inevitable.

“Okay,” Julia whispered back just as she let go. “You be safe too, alright?’

Rachel nodded before composing herself. Julia’s best friend then followed Lynn around the base of the pyramid. Their goal was to find anyone who might spoil their plan and keep them occupied before they did so.

That left Adam, Luke and Julia standing at the base of the staircase leading to the top of the Mayan pyramid.

“Let’s do this thing!” Luke said enthusiastically, even thought he knew none of them were excited about what was about to happen. He looked to his left and saw Julia and Adam giving him a weird looks. “Oh, come on! Somebody’s got to be optimistic!” All three stared up at the long staircase.

At the top was a room. For the Mayans it was a sacred part of the temple, but today it was a death sentence.

Julia took both Luke and Adam’s hands as they ascended the staircase. With swords on their belts, they felt like warriors heading off to war for the first time. But in reality, they had been at war for four long years and this battle was the ending point. Someone was going to surrender tonight—hopefully not them.

Once they got to the top, Adam gave Julia a hug. “You can do this. I believe in you,” he whispered into her ear. His black hair and blue eyes covered by black glasses making him look like a major nerd, but Julia thought it was cute. He got his smarts and his looks from his mother, making Julia wonder if he had inherited anything from the mysterious birth father of his.

Adam kissed her on the cheek and let go of her, walking around the outside of the wall, just like the plan called for, leaving Luke and Julia alone.

At first, Julia only stared into his hypnotizing green eyes. His blonde hair was a little messy today. Last night, he had spent the night in her dorm room. He had kissed her goodnight and then plopped on the futon. In the middle of the night, the recurring nightmare came back, as it did when she thought of her old, lost childhood friend. Scared of sleep, she crawled onto the futon with him and he held her tight, as he had done numerous times before. Nothing had happened, of course, but she had finally gotten sleep after hearing his encouraging, loving words whispered softly to her.

She saw that moment and countless other special moments shared between the two reflected in his eyes. He was thinking the same thing as her: what if this moment was their last?

Luke pulled Julia into a hug before she could ruin the moment by talking. “The little nerd’s got a point for once.” Luke whispered to her. “I love you Jules, you know that right?” She nodded. Her body was starting to tremble with fear. There was no turning back now. Luke kissed her on the forehead and started to walk around the wall in the opposite direction of Adam, according to the plan.

After rounding the corner, he stood still. The only movement he made was his right hand running through his blonde hair. The girl he loved was about to fight to the death. I should be used to this by now, he thought to himself. But I’m not. He took his sword out from his belt and held it out in front of him. He continued to walk along the wall when he got a tap on his shoulder. He turned around as fast as he could, ready to strike with his sword.

“Luke! It’s me!” Julia blurted out. The sword was two inches from her throat. After realizing the error of his ways, Luke lowered the sword and put it back in his belt.

“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be…you know…fighting Maddie?

“I can’t do it.”

“What do you mean you can’t do it?”

“I’m going to fail,” Julia sighed, obviously frustrated. “But I can’t fail since the world is going to end if I do.”

“Okay, so there’s a little pressure, but I know you can do this.”

She looked up at him, tears threatening to fall. “How are you so sure?”

“Because it’s you Jules!” He took a step closer. “You’ve got to believe in yourself. All of us do, so why can’t you?”

“I…I just have a feeling that it’s not me. I’m not cut out for this. If I go in there, I’m going to fail. Just like Evan said! And failing in this situation means…means…death.”

Luke cringed at Evan’s name. He took a deep breath. “You’re not going to die, Jules. You’re overreacting.”

Am I?

“Yes!” He put his hands on her shoulders. “You’ve got to believe it Jules! You’ve got to go in there and kill that horrible aunt of yours and end all her crap!”

“But I can’t, Luke!”

“Now that’s not the Jules I know! The Jules I’ve known since birth has got more courage and more strength than anybody I know! She’s…she’s the girl that I fell in love with.” He paused. After hesitating, he reached down into his right sock and pulled out a ring.

“What is that?” Julia’s voice suddenly went from furious to almost nonexistence. The ring scared her almost as much as her aunt Maddie.

Luke laughed a little. “It’s a ring…I…I was going to give it to you.”

Julia froze, her gaze lingering on the silver ring with the small diamond.

“I came back to the States a day early to surprise you.” He paused, but only for a second. “But you were all upset and I felt like this would be the last thing you would want at the moment. And then we came here…”

“You were going to propose?” She finally stopped trembling. Luke saw hope in her eyes—a good sign.

“Uh…yeah.” He smirked to himself looking at the ring and all the happy years it was going to bring them. He sighed.  He shook his head, coming back to his senses. “But that doesn’t mean anything now. I don’t know why I pulled that out, I’m sorry. I guess I just…wanted you to know that I had it…” He shook his head, feeling more idiotic than ever, and reached back down to put the ring in his sock.

Julia’s hand reached out and stopped him from putting it back.

“You were sure that I was the girl for you? You were willing to propose even after everything we’ve been through?”

“Yeah Jules.” A smile grew on his face. “I love you. All I’ve done since I left for England was think of you. All that I’ve ever done is think of you.”

“Y-y-you wanted to spend the rest of your life with me?” A tiny tear escaped out of the corner of her eye and started forging a path down her cheek.

“I haven’t been without you so far, why start now?” He flashed that signature smile of his as he wiped away the tear gently with his thumb.

“You went to London for a few months without me,” she retorted. “I’m sure those months without me were great.”

“Jules, you’re beating yourself up for no reason.” He took one of her hands and placed it on his heart. He placed his hand on top of hers, immediately making her face heat up. “I knew in my heart that you were the girl for me and that someday it’d be official. My time in London showed me that I can’t wait anymore.” He moved a hair off of her face and tucked it behind her ear. “But we’ve got to get through today first. You’re going to come back after this, Jules. You’re going to come out of there with the ninth piece and the world’s not going to end and all that crap.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do Jules. It’s a gut feeling. I can’t explain or deny it.”

“I…uh…I should probably get in there.” Julia started to turn around but Luke stopped her.

“If I asked you to marry me right now, what would you say?”

Julia took a step back from him, tears threatening to fall again. She wasted no time releasing all her pent-up anger at him, letting out the worst possible answer—even worse than a simple no.

“Are you really putting me in this position right now? Like I haven’t got enough pressure on my shoulders right now!”

She regretted it the second it came out of her mouth. The tears fell.

Luke felt as if he had been punched in the stomach. Hearing that was worse than a ‘no’ or a ‘ask me again after I save the world.’

He collected himself, lowering his voice to a whisper. “I’m sorry Jules. Had to ask.”

Julia took a few deep breaths and looked as if she could punch someone in the face any second. It wouldn’t have mattered if she had punched him, he wouldn’t have felt it. That’s how numb he felt at her rejection. No, not a rejection, it was worse than that.

After a few tense moments, she closed the gap between them and kissed him passionately. To him, it felt like a goodbye kiss, like she was preparing for the worst. But he knew that she would make it back. How come she couldn’t see that?

“I love you, Luke.”

And just like that she went back around the corner and was gone from his sight.

Julia stood in front of the entrance to the room at the top of the Mayan pyramid. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

She saw her dad. The memories flashed by like a montage sequence in a movie. It started with him trying to help her shoot a basketball back when she was five and ended with the last time she ever saw him alive. “You played great tonight, Julie Ju. You could be in the pro’s someday if you keep it up. I’ll see you at home, okay? Have fun with your friends. Love you sweetie.” A hug and a kiss on the cheek later and she would never seen him again.

She saw her mother. She saw her trying to force Julia into a dress for church when she was a little girl. She saw the pile of tissues on her bed after learning of Julia’s father’s death. She saw her in the kitchen cooking after school, like she did every day they had lived in Boston. She saw how happy she was on her second wedding day, holding hands with her new step-father Frank. When was the last time she had talked to her mother? It seemed like ages.

She saw her friends. Adam doing homework. Rachel on the sidelines cheering on the football team. Three months pregnant Candy laughing so hard at one of Luke’s lame jokes while camping that one time. Lynn showing her the pictures of her family for the first time.

And then she saw Luke. Luke: the boy she grew up with. Her best friend since birth. The boy who fell for her back in ninth grade. The boy who had risked everything that was important to him to help out with the Warpers—not that he had a choice. The man he had turned into over the past four years. The man she had fallen in love with.

Julia opened her eyes. She wasn’t doing this for herself. She was doing this for them. She had to. Her father was already dead. Others would follow if she didn’t succeed today, including herself.

Julia took one step into the room and saw her aunt standing right across from her. Her dark brown—almost black—curly hair was draped over her shoulders. She was dressed for a fight: slick, black pants, low-cut, skin-tight, long-sleeved black shirt. In Julia’s opinion, she looked like Scarlett Johansson in the Avengers–minus the red hair. Her blue eyes reminded Julia of a stormy sea. The electric look in her eyes had slowly faded over the past four years—she was losing her power and strength. Julia was hoping to take advantage of that.

Today was her last stand. Julia was determined to make it so.

“Oh darling!” Her aunt’s British accent echoed throughout the room. “I thought you would never show up! Let’s not waste any time!”

“Now we wouldn’t want to waste any time, now would we?”


 

“There’s no way! They can’t do this!”

Julia’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of someone yelling. She noticed Luke leaning back in a chair next to her bed. Rachel and Adam were pacing back and forth in the small hospital room. Rachel was crying. Adam looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. Luke looked furious.

When did I get in a hospital room?

“What could we have done that was so wrong? We saved the whole freakin’ world! Shouldn’t they be thanking us?”

Luke even had that angry undertone to his voice. Whatever they were talking about was seriously ticking him off. The pain of all of her injuries was coming to Julia in a slow steady stream. It took all of her energy to keep her eyes open and stay conscious. Whatever had happened to her while fighting Maddie must have been brutal.

She only wished could remember what had happened. The last thing she remembered was walking into the temple. Maybe she didn’t want to know. Maybe her brain was doing her a favor by erasing those memories. Time would only tell.

“Adam, you know everything!” Luke continued. “How do we get the heck out of this! There’s got to be someone we can talk to!” Luke whisper-yelled at Adam. Julia saw how none of them had noticed she was awake. She must not have been out that long. Maybe they were all still mad about what happened back at the Mayan pyramid. It seemed like it was only seconds ago…

“I’m thinking! I’m thinking!” Adam stopped pacing and glared at Luke. “There’s not a single way that things ends up good for us! We can’t tell these guys no! We can’t lie either! They know everything!”

Julia’s vision finally cleared completely. She saw that all three of her friends had bandages, stitches and scars all over their body. Adam even had a cast on his right wrist. Julia could only assume she looked just as bad, but most likely worse since she was the only one in a hospital bed hooked up to machines.

“W-w-who knows everything?” Julia barely croaked out. Her voice silenced a room of three people complaining, crying and freaking out over something Julia was still in the dark about.

“JULIA! You’re alive! Oh thank God!” Luke kissed her forehead. “We didn’t know if you would ever wake up!”

“Unlike you Luke, I can’t sleep forever.” A smile grew on Luke’s face at her sarcastic remark. He was just happy she was alive. “How long was I asleep?”

“You were unconscious for five days,” Luke said softly as he grabbed her left hand. He was trying to calm down her a bit and it was working.

“And the FBI is trying to nail us for terrorism,” Adam whispered while shaking his head. He was now at the foot of the hospital bed. Rachel was sitting in a chair by the door wiping tears off her cheeks. “They claim what we’ve been doing qualifies as ‘crimes against humanity.’ If we get convicted, we’re all going to be executed.”

“I still can’t believe this. We saved the world and now the world wants us dead! Are they going to release our story into the public? Nobody would believe it.” Luke asked Adam as he got up to check the blinds to see if anyone was on the other side of the door. Julia couldn’t see what was going on outside from where the bed was positioned.

“No, the FBI won’t do that. If the public doesn’t know time travel exists, they’re not going to come out now and tell them. We need some kind of proof that what we did was good for humanity and fast. Otherwise we’re all dead.”

Adam closed the blinds and sat down in the chair next to Rachel.

“I don’t want to be executed!” Rachel burst out into more tears and Adam put his arm over her shoulders, holding her close. “We just went through hell and back and the FBI is making us go back!” The tears were making her words hard to decipher. Luckily, Julia had become pretty good at understanding her while crying. “My dad already hates me enough. I’m practically dead to him now. He’s probably burning pictures of me at home as we speak.”

Julia looked up at Luke, confused as to what Rachel was saying about her father. He shrugged. Later, he mouthed.

It was at that moment that the door almost came flying off its hinges. Three soldiers with big guns came rushing in, pointing the guns at each of the teenagers. Once they decided it was secure, a man in a tuxedo came in and directed one of the soldiers to fix the door and stand guard. Tuxedo Man stood at the foot of the bed and glared down at Julia.

“I heard our little rebel leader was awake and I came to talk.”

Tuxedo Man looked at Luke. “Help her to a sitting position.”

Luke nodded and tried to help Julia sit up, but she waved him off. Despite the pain, she was not going to look weak. She cringed every second. Something had to be broken or bruised in her stomach area.

“I’m not the leader.” Julia surprised herself with the amount of courage in her voice. On the inside she was trembling with fear. This FBI guy was pretty scary looking as it was.

“Oh, dear. What a shame.” He pointed a finger at one of the soldiers who readied his gun. Click. Tuxedo Man moved as close to Julia as the hospital bed would allow.

“DO NOT PLAY GAMES WITH ME JULIA!” He moved back a little and straightened his tie, composing himself. “Just tell us why you did it and we might lighten your sentence.”

“How can you lighten an execution sentence? Make it less painful?” Luke murmured from the other side of the bed. One of the soldiers seized him while the other pointed his loaded gun straight at his chest.

“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about. C-c-could you at least tell me what’s going on? I just woke up.” Julia tried to keep the shakiness out of her voice, but it wasn’t working. Seeing Luke being held at gunpoint was not exactly the morale boosting sight she was hoping for.

“I’m referring to your little time travel stunt Julia.” Tuxedo Man sat down in a chair. He seemed calm and relaxed, which was out of place in this tense ambiance. “That classifies as crimes against humanity and leaning towards terrorism. My branch of the FBI has sent me to bring you four into custody.”

“How does time-traveling count as a crime against humanity? We didn’t mess with anything. History still played out the same way. What’s the problem?”

Did it play out the same way Julia? How are you so sure?”

“We didn’t leave any trace of anything strange happening. No one wrote of us, no pictures were taken, nothing. You can look all you want but everything is the same. We didn’t get to pick when or where we went. The book did that for us.”

Adam let out a sigh of disappointment and Julia immediately knew that she should not have mentioned the book.

For the first time, Tuxedo Man smirked, knowing he had gotten something out of her. “This ‘book’ you speak of, where is it?”

Julia threw up her hands in frustration. “Like I know!” She immediately regretted her decision due to the searing pain in both arms. ” I’ve been unconscious for five days!”

“We didn’t get it back before we came back from our last little escapade,” Adam added calmly. Julia knew it was his way of giving her some more information of the situation at hand. Maybe he knew Julia didn’t remember what happened at the top of the Mayan temple. If anyone was going to figure it out, it would have been him.

With all the confusion and the frustration of what happened five days ago, all Julia wanted was some time to sleep. Not to be grilled with questions she obviously didn’t know the answer to.

“So anyone could be in possession of such book? If you’re telling me the truth, that is…”

“I am telling you the truth,” Julia snapped. She took a deep breath to calm herself down. “Yes, theoretically anyone could have it. But the last place I saw it, it was at my house. I’m sure you’ve already checked there. Heck, Maddie might even have it.”

Adam wanted to hit his head onto the window and Julia knew it. Her exhaustion, pain and amnesia wasn’t helping her think clearly right now. This conversation needed to stop now. If it didn’t, something wasn’t going to go their way and they were going to end up dead.

Tuxedo Man smirked again, loving all this new information. “Now this ‘Maddie’ you speak of, where is she?”

Julia glanced down at her hands. “I don’t know.”

“And why not?”

“Because,” she snapped, not letting her eyes leave her hands.

“That’s not an answer.” Tuxedo Man stood up and walked over to the soldier holding Luke. “We can easily kill your friend Luke here. He’s disposable to us in this investigation. You’re the leader, Miss Holbrook. You’re the only one that the FBI currently needs. Your sidekick over here won’t be necessary.”

Julia noticed Adam roll his eyes out of the corner of her eyes. She glanced his direction and rolled his eyes some more. They won’t, he mouthed to her.

Luke fought against the soldier, muttering something incoherent. The soldier holding him kneed the back of his knee, causing Luke to falter. The soldier holding the gun to his chest pushed it closer, but did not shoot—thankfully.

Julia felt anger boiling inside of her, despite Adam’s warning. Luke was anything but disposable. Luke was her childhood friend. They grew up together in a small town outside of Atlanta. When they were seven, Luke’s father got transferred to Seattle and Julia thought she was never going to see her best friend again. Luckily in the 7th grade, both Julia and Luke’s fathers got transferred to Boston, reuniting them for the first time in years. Over the years, they had fallen in love. Julia knew Luke was the man she was going to marry some day, despite the fact that she had turned him down. He just had bad timing, that’s all. The pressure got to you, she reminded herself. She couldn’t imagine life without him. Julia couldn’t think of a single way he was disposable. He was strong, funny, great-looking, good with a sword and a gun, caring, compassionate, loyal…the list went on and on. Julia couldn’t think of one good memory that didn’t have him involved in some way. He was her whole life. She couldn’t, and wouldn’t, get him killed. Never ever.

“I don’t know,” Julia said quietly, staring at Luke. He was staring back. “We were forced back here for some reason. I honestly have no clue where she is.”

The next few moments were critical. Julia answered as honestly as she could. She didn’t know if Luke, Adam or Rachel had seen Maddie while she was knocked out—they hadn’t given her enough time to ask. But Tuxedo Man didn’t know that. If she hadn’t convinced him that she was telling the truth, Luke would be killed.

Julia would have held her breath, if she could. She must have broken a rib or something because breathing was extremely hard for her.

“Fine. Take them to the car. We’re heading to base.” Tuxedo Man stood up and moved to exit the room. “I’ll make arrangements for her.” He looked right at Julia, looked her over, as if searching for more information, and walked out of the room.

“Base?” Adam asked. One of the soldiers came over, grabbed him by the arm and forced him out of the room. “Let go of me! You can’t take me anywhere!”

The soldier guarding the door and the other remaining soldier grabbed Luke and Rachel, respectively, and pushed them out the door. Luke gave her a longing look, as if he wanted to fight the soldier, but knew it wasn’t the smart idea. That’d be the first time he ever did that, she thought to herself. Luke wasn’t exactly known for making smart decisions, especially when it came to fighting.

The door was slammed shut, cutting off all sound—beside the constant beeping from the machines around her, monitoring her heartbeat.

Julia didn’t know what to do now that everyone was out of the room. Where was her mom? What about Frank? What about her friends’ parents and siblings? Which hospital was she in? Nothing in the room gave her any indication of what was going on.

Despite all the stuff that she could have been thinking about, the pain pulled through, taking over most of her thoughts. Obviously the nurse forgot the morphine before Tuxedo Man took over.

Julia slowly removed the blanket covering her from the waist down and saw many gashes. Some had bandages, some had stitches, others were already scarring over. Her left arm was wrapped tightly.

The sword made one final cut into Julia’s left arm. Even though the cut was just one of many—and certainly not the most painful—Julia still screamed out in pain. 

“Had enough yet dearie?” Maddie yelled out. Julia took a second to compose herself and then straightened, with her sword in her right hand. 

“Do you see the last piece?” Julia watched as her aunt’s facial expression turned sour. “Then no.”

She was glad that her memory was slowly starting to come back to her, even if it was in pieces. She had a broken right wrist—the neon green cast poking out through the sling was a dead giveaway. She pulled up the hospital gown a little, revealing her stomach, and saw a huge bandage wrapped around her entire waist.

That explains the not-being-able-to-breathe part, she thought to herself.

She looked on each side of her and saw a small hand mirror on the beside table. Daring herself to look, she grabbed it and held it in front of her face.

In the mirror she saw a person she didn’t recognize.

There was a thick pad of gauze taped to her forehead. There were many scratches and scars that looked like claw marks. Her brown hair was obviously tangled and a huge mess. It had been pulled back into a random ponytail with a rubber band—probably something that a nurse had done before a surgery. Her blue eyes had lost the fire in them. They looked dull and weary.

She wanted to cry but tears wouldn’t come. Luke had seen her like this. She couldn’t even recognize herself.

Two frightened nurses came into the room with a wheelchair and started unhooking Julia from all the machines. One of the nurses picked Julia up and placed her in the wheelchair. Together the two nurses pushed her all the way down the hallway, into the elevator, down to floor one and out the exit door.

During the whole journey, Julia saw nobody. There wasn’t a single person in sight in this hospital. Only emergency lights were on to light the way. Julia was half expecting to see the exit doors have “Don’t Open Dead Inside” written on there.

They went through the exit doors—no Walking Dead reference written on the wall, unfortunately—and stepped out onto a loading dock. Two soldiers came over and helped the nurses load the wheelchair into the back of a military truck, strapping it in so that it would not roll around during the drive. The nurses gave the soldiers a few instructions before they shut the door and hurried into the hospital.

Once she was sure the soldiers were back in the front of the truck, Julia spoke up.

“What kind of people are we dealing with?”

The truck started going, creating an instantly bumpy ride. She knew this was going to be painful and started to brace herself for it.

“The FBI does what it wants,” Adam mumbled. He was sitting on the floor across from her wheelchair with his legs pulled up to his chin. “Imagine the power these guys have.” Adam sure had a knack for thinking their possible demise was mind-blowingly awesome. This wasn’t the first time.

Luke, despite the fact that the girls had gotten used to Adam’s geeky side, still punched him in the arm. “Dude! This is not the time to be impressed! We’re getting out sorry butts killed FOR SAVING THE FREAKIN’ WORLD I MIGHT ADD!”

As if they can hear us, Julia retorted inside her head.

Luke moved over to the wheelchair and sat at Julia’s feet. He leaned his head back against her legs, her hands instantly finding his hair, playing with it.

They say that old habits die hard.

“We didn’t exactly save the world yet, and they can’t hear you Luke, so shut up.” Rachel snapped. She had been sitting quietly in the corner, finally done with the tears. “Let’s just see if we can make a case for them not to kill us. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

“They seem to think that the time-traveling thing is a threat to humanity. That’s interesting…” Adam said as he looked at the ground. The look in his eyes told Julia he was trying to do some weird, strange, large calculation in his head.

“What is it? Do you know a way out?” Luke leaned forward, but was forced back by the bumpiness of the ride.

“Maybe since time travel hasn’t been invented yet, they think we’re from the future or something. They probably think we’re coming from the future to prevent something from happening!”

“Hey guys…” Julia croaked out, but they all ignored her.

“We’ve just got to prove that we’re from this time period. They can see our birth certificates!” Luke stood up, trying to get a seat across from Julia so that he could register her response. A bump in the road caused him to fall down into her lap, crushing her. He looked at her and saw that she was trying so hard not to cry from the pain. His eyes went wide. “Jules, I’m so, so, so, so sorry. Are you okay?”

All Julia could do was slowly nod. Painful tears streamed down her face anyway.

“No,” Adam shook his head, oblivious to the fact that Luke had just sat on Julia. “They’ll think we faked them. That’s easy to do.”

Luke sat down in the space next to the wheelchair and glared at Adam. “You know how to fake a birth certificate?”

Adam looked up at Luke with an expression that said duh. “Yeah? Doesn’t mean I’ve done it though.”

Luke returned the same look. “Dude. Now would be a great time to have a fake one!”

“Hey guys…” Julia somehow managed to say, this time a little bit louder.

“Why on earth would it be good to fake a birth certificate now Luke? Why? That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve heard you say in a long time!”

“WILL BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP?” Julia yelled with every last ounce of energy she had left in her. She caught her breath and continued, all three of her friends staring at her in awe. “Stop…just…stop.”

After a couple of coughs, Julia started to talk again. All the strength in her voice was still gone—apparently the yelling was going to be a one time thing.

“Let’s just tell them our story. If we’re totally honest they might just believe us.”

A solid minute of silence–an oddity with these four.

“That might work,” Rachel added quietly from the corner.

“That’s a heck of a story we’ve got to tell,” Luke said in a reminiscing tone of voice. “It started over four years ago. A lot has happened in that time.”

Luke grabbed Julia’s hand, giving it a light squeeze. Something had changed between them now. Of all the things she wanted to forget, her reaction was at the top of the list. He had proposed and she had denied him. Not only that, but she had humiliated him in the process.

“Are you really putting me in this position right now? Like I haven’t got enough pressure on my shoulders right now!”

She let go of his hand.

Nothing was ever going to be the same between them until they got some alone time to talk. Julia had a feeling that wasn’t going to happen while they were in custody.

“That’ll buy us enough time to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. I…I could tell every little detail. It would last days, maybe even weeks. It might just get us out of this mess.”

Julia shifted in the wheelchair. After she got situated, and an awkward moment of silence, Luke spoke up. “Jules has got a point.”

“But do we want them to know everything that happened? Every single detail?” Adam paused, glancing at Rachel for a slight second. Julia figured she was the only one who noticed. “Is telling them everything going to be worth it?”

“What choice do we have?” Luke grabbed Julia’s hand again. She held on tight, as if letting go meant losing him. She had already turned down his proposal.

Crap…moment ruined.

Julia let go of his hand and put it in her lap. She looked down at her hands to avoid the confused look Luke was probably giving her. It was the second time she had let go of his hand in a matter of minutes. He didn’t know what was going on and he didn’t like it.

“We tell them everything and we might have a chance at walking away without a scratch.” Rachel looked at all three and giggled. “Well…no more scratches.”

Julia let out a little laugh and then winced in pain. “So it’s settled then. Once we get to ‘the base’ we tell them our story. Every. Last. Detail.”


 

Upon arriving at the base, Julia, Luke, Adam and Rachel were all escorted to a tiny cell. Luke didn’t know how old the place was, but the prison cell they were in didn’t look like it had been used since his great-grandfather was a little kid. There were two small bunks—no doubt smaller than a twin-sized bed—and just enough space to fit another one.

Since they had gotten there in the middle of the night, Rachel, Adam and Julia had all decided sleep was the best option. Rachel took the top bunk and fell asleep the second her head hit the pillow. Adam fell asleep curled up on the cold floor, using his jacket as a blanket.

After Julia fell asleep in the bottom bunk, Luke plopped down against the wall, facing the bunk beds. He leaned his head back and pulled his legs up against his chin.

He couldn’t sleep. Not after the past five days. No, scratch that. Not after the past four years.

He couldn’t help but feel like he had failed Julia. He couldn’t do anything to save her. She was supposed to be the one to save them. She had saved their butts so many times. Luke wanted to be her knight in shining armor for once.

I’m such a horrible boyfriend. Wait…does she even consider me her boyfriend anymore?

Luke knew he didn’t deserve Julia. Nobody did. He couldn’t help but beat himself up about the failed proposal.

Maybe if I hadn’t popped the question, Julia wouldn’t have been distracted and might have beaten Maddie. And then we wouldn’t even be in this mess. Those FBI jerks wouldn’t be preparing to kill us and Jules wouldn’t be in the position she’s in.

Luke couldn’t help but wonder what his life would have been like if he had never signed up with the Warpers. No double life. No imprisonment. No time-traveling. But that also meant no friendship with Adam, no forgiveness from Rachel, no falling in love with Julia. Did the costs outweigh the benefits in this situation?

We’re in the process of saving the world. Where’s our parade? Where’s our money and instant fame? This is dumb. And mostly my fault.

Luke stopped ranting to himself long enough to see Julia jolt awake from a bad dream and hit her head on the bottom of the bunk on top of her. He scooted over toward her.

“Bad dream, huh?” He asked her jokingly, but so quiet he questioned whether or not she heard him. Julia turned her head and nodded, rubbing her head where she had been hit.

“This one had Maddie in it.”

“We’ll find her Jules. Don’t you worry.”

“In this dream she found us.”

“And…?”

“Do you remember what happened the last time she found us?”

“Uh…no.”

Julia closed her eyes, picturing the memory in her head. “She told me that if I didn’t do something for her someone I loved would die…but…but I didn’t finish it in time and…and…” Julia paused. A tear made its way down her cheek. “Well, you know what happened.”

Luke wanted to grab her hand, stroke her cheek, anything. But something had changed between them. The fact that she wouldn’t hold hands with him on the truck ride to this hellhole was proof enough. He restrained himself.

“Yeah, I do.” He changed the subject. “So what happened in this dream?”

Her eyes showed something that he had begun to notice more and more over the years—fear. “She threatened to kill…us…”

He knew immediately she was leaving a lot of details out. He also knew that she wasn’t telling him for a reason. He decided not to push. He was already on thin ice with her.

“Don’t worry about it Julia. It was just a dream. She’s not going to kill anybody else. We’ll get to her before that happens.” Luke fell into temptations and slowly moved a hair off of her forehead. “I’m not going to let her hurt you anymore.”

Julia kept her eyes focused on the bottom of the top bunk as if she was guilty of something.

“So what exactly happened when I was unconscious?”

Luke sighed. “Well…after you fainted,”

Julia’s eyes shot to him. “Wait…I fainted?”

Luke raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? You were there, remember?”

“I don’t remember that.” Her eyes focused back on the bottom of the top bunk, avoiding eye contact with him. “The last thing I remember was starting the fight with Maddie.”

Luke didn’t know what to say. He didn’t understand medical stuff. Adam would have some theory about brains and what not. Luke, on the other hand, just said the only thing he could think of. “Oh. That’s…interesting.”

Julia took a deep breath and shook her head. “So we came back here, somehow–”

“Yeah, that was the weird part. It just kind of happened randomly and we were in some alley a few blocks away from the hospital.”

“And that’s when I fainted?”

“Yeah. Gave me a heart attack too.” Julia smiled. “You stood up, said something, then fainted. Adam thinks you probably would have died if I hadn’t caught you.”

Julia scoffed. “That’s what you’d like to think.” Luke rolled his eyes. “What did I say?”

Luke shrugged. “Didn’t hear it.”

“So I fainted…and then…”

“Adam ’bout killed us with his crazy driving to the hospital. Rachel called all of our parents. Once we got there, Adam tried to tell the doctors exactly what to do and he almost got kicked out of the hospital all together.”

“That sounds like him.” Julia couldn’t help but laugh. When he continued his story, Julia found the courage to look at him.

“Yeah, his annoying self at its best. You were in surgery all through the night. Your mom and Frank came by and spent the night at the hospital. Rachel’s dad came and picked her up and he was super pissed. Adam had to go to the airport to pick up his mom.”

“Gabi came all the way from San Francisco?”

“Of course. Gabi hopped on a plane to Boston as soon as he heard. So around four in the morning or so, Adam left.”

“What about you?” Luke had her full attention now.

“Rob came by and brought me some snacks, a sports magazine and a change of clothes while you were in surgery.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because he knew I wasn’t going to leave until you woke up.”

“Why not go home and get a good nights sleep and a decent shower? I could have been out for months.”

“Julia,” Luke reached for her hand, despite what his brain was telling him. “After what I said and you almost dying and then seeing you faint…I…I just couldn’t handle it. I’m the reason all of this happened the way that it did. I wanted to find some way to make it up to you, but I couldn’t do anything if you didn’t wake up. So…I decided I was going to stay until you woke up. It…it was the least I could do.”

“You thought everything that happened was your fault? Luke…you’re all wrong.” Julia squeezed his hand. “Everything was going to go to hell, whether you were involved or not.” She smirked and he relaxed a little. “You had nothing to do with that. Don’t beat yourself up over it.”

“But I can’t help but think that it was my fault.” He lowered his voice to a barely audible whisper. “That proposal was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“If we make it out of here alive, we can talk about what we both said. But right now that doesn’t matter.” Julia took a deep breath. “What…what happened next?”

Luke cleared his throat, trying not to get too caught up in what she had just said. “After you got out of surgery, your mom, Frank and I sat in your room.”

“Y’all just sat there? That must have been awkward.”

“Oh yeah. That’s an understatement. Frank kept asking me weird questions.” Luke cleared his throat again, preparing his ‘Frank’ accent. It was really a French accent, since Frank was born in France, but Luke insisted on calling it the Frank accent, after Julia’s step-father, naturally. “Like: how is college going? Are you going to follow your father into professional baseball? How many kids do you want to have? Are you going to marry Julia soon or when you’re fifty?”

Julia looked back up at the bottom of the bunk on top of her when marriage was mentioned.

“Oh Frank…he does that…” Julia rolled her eyes.

“Yeah…he’s one interesting step-dad.” Luke wallowed in the silence for a few seconds before continuing. “So after two days of just sitting around, Rachel came to visit. She was in tears and had a huge suitcase full of stuff with her.”

“Why is that?”

“Her dad kicked her out. Told her that she could keep everything she could fit in that huge suitcase of hers. With the pregnancy scare and her coming clean about everything—”

“She told her dad what we had been doing?”

“Yeah…he…uh…didn’t take it very well.”

Julia put her free hand on her forehead as if ridding a headache. “I should have seen that coming.”

“And then Adam came back with his mom, before taking her to the hotel. Adam and Rachel had some intense conversation and I think they’re back on again, but I’m not sure. When Adam came back from the hotel, he looked a little freaked. It was weird.”

“So Adam and Rachel are together…again?”

“I think so.” Luke’s eyebrows scrunched in confusion. Nobody in the world could keep up with that relationship. “So it was dinner on the fourth day when the FBI showed up. They had the entire hospital on lockdown. They came in, explained our situation, but they said they wouldn’t take us anywhere until they talked to you. So we were basically quarantined in your room until you woke up the next day.”

“And then we ended up here?”

“And then we ended up here.”

“How are you holding up?”

“What?”

“Are you doing okay?” She asked him quietly. “Your left leg doesn’t look too good. I noticed a limp of some kind in the walk from the truck to here.” She motioned in the general direction of his leg.

“Oh, that’s nothing. I just hurt my knee pretty badly. I’m okay, I’ve been walking on it for some time now.”

Julia smacked him with her cast. “You’re not supposed to be walking with a knee injury you idiot!”

“I’m not the problem here. You have more medical issues than me.” Luke waved his hands over her, emphasizing his point.

“And I lived to tell the tale!” Julia smiled with what she thought was a clever saying. If she had some kind of alcohol to drink, it would be the perfect reference to a movie—one that Luke couldn’t remember the name to right now.

Luke patted her hand with his. “I’m just glad you’re okay. I don’t know what I would have done if you had died.”

“Oh I know: watch ESPN, eat pizza and fight with Adam…sometimes Rachel.”

“Ha. Ha. Very funny. I was being all serious and you had to ruin it.”

Julia rolled her eyes playfully. “I know. But you don’t have to worry about that now. Everything’s going to be okay.”

“How can you be so sure? Maddie’s still out there.”

“Because we have something that she doesn’t.”

“What’s that?”

“Friends. People who love and care about us. Teamwork. Awesomeness. You name it, we’ve got it.”

“You forgot hot guys,” Luke motioned to himself.

“Oh I left that out on purpose.” Julia and Luke both laughed quietly.

“Luke, I’m gonna get some more sleep…is that okay?”

He didn’t want to leave her side. He wanted to stay with her. Crawl into the bed and wrap an arm around her. Kiss her on the forehead and whisper “I love you.”

But he didn’t do that. “Yeah sure Jules.” He scooted back over to where he was, leaning his head up against the wall.

“Goodnight Luke.”

“Goodnight Jules.”


 

At exactly four in the morning, four soldiers came into the cell and escorted the cell’s occupants out of the cell and into a room labeled INTERROGATION ROOM C. The only thing in that room was a long, white table with four chairs on one side and one on the other. The soldiers forced each teenager in a chair, leaving the one across from them empty.

Tuxedo Man walked in and sat across from Julia.

The door to the room shut, giving the room an eerie sense of finality. This was it. This was their chance to convince them that they’re not terrorists.

“Good morning.” Tuxedo Man said.

He was met with four blank stares.

“Okay then…” Tuxedo Man pulled out a legal pad and a pen. “Start talking.”

“About what, uh…” Adam replied quietly. “I don’t exactly know your name.”

“Agent Tate.” Agent Tate pointed his pen at each person as he guessed their names. “And you are Rachel Cannon, Adam Washington, Luke Madden and Julia Holbrook.”

All four nodded, not surprised he knew their names.

“Good. Now that we all know each other. Who wants to start with your story? I’m sure you’d like to make me sympathize with you…blah, blah, blah.” He rolled his eyes. “I can assure you it won’t work, but I am required to listen to you by executive order.”

“Executive order?” Adam muttered under his breath. “The president knows about us?”

“That is irrelevant,” Agent Tate snapped. Adam looked stunned, as if he had just been insulted to the highest degree.

“Where do you want us to start?” Rachel asked, changing the subject. Her newfound courage that had been gone just hours before surprised Julia, but she loved it. When Rachel was super confident and courageous, things went well for them. It was a good sign, whether Rachel was acting or not.

“At the beginning. Now who wants to start?”

Luke, Adam and Rachel all looked down at Julia.

“Thanks,” Julia muttered under her breath. She straightened up in her chair, looked straight at Agent Tate and cleared her throat. “It all started on my fifteenth birthday.”


So I’m working on editing chapter 2 right now. Comments are very much appreciated. I’d love some feedback on this! Thanks again for reading! Have a great week!

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