The City Never Sleeps At Night

Author Archive

FIRST THINGS FIRST: It sucks to be socially anxious and have a Type A personality . Every conversation I have to get pumped up for because I feel that if I don’t do that, I’ll make some stupid mistake or prove to the other person that I’m some dumb idiot that doesn’t know what the heck they’re doing. Every conversation I leave with more questions than answers (mostly questions revolving around how the other person perceived me. Was I too obnoxious? Do they think I’m stupid? Did I come off as annoying? They probably think I’m stupid. They’ll talk smack about me behind my back for weeks because of what I just said. etc., etc., etc.)

This is just the beginning of my life.

I’ve been applying to graduate school, which is awesome and exciting, but it’s also adding way more stress to my life than ever before. If that’s not enough, I have 18 hours (6 classes in college talk), 2 jobs (that I work way more than I get paid for) and 1 big fundraising event that’s coming up next weekend that we’re not ready for.

Talk about stressful.

You know what’s the worst part though…I want to talk about it to people. I want to de-stress and rant and cry and scream and let out all of my frustration but I physically can’t. I literally just got off the phone with my mom to talk to her about my awful day (in which I only made things worse) and I literally could not push the words out of my mouth “I’ve had a bad day, I just wanted to talk about it.” Why? I don’t know. I can’t tell you why. My boss asked me what was wrong earlier (partially I was in a bad mood because of him, but that’s not relevant right now), and I literally could not force any words out of my mouth except for “I’m fine.” And when he obviously didn’t believe me and said “Well if you want to talk about it, you can talk with me,” I retorted (probably rather rudely now that I think about) “I’m. Fine.”

Idiot, she is -Yoda (if he were to talk about me right now)

I have so much to do in the next two weeks that I just want to cry! I literally don’t know where to start. I keep pretending like I’m being productive by writing to-do lists and creating Google docs for the others on the planning committee and reminding people of the meeting Thursday night, but in reality I’ve gotten no where.

You know what makes all this worse? My boss thinks I’m just going to “steamroll” all over people and exclude all others from everything (and screw it all up). It’s a tragic flaw of the Type A personality to be a perfectionist. If I’m on a planning committee, I intend on seeing the entire thing through to make sure it’s the best I could possibly make it. Yes, boss, I understand you want it to be a collaborate thing, that everybody can have a say and participate. I understand that, I really do. Heck, I would love it if people came and helped out more. REALITY CHECK THOUGH: nobody does. The countless Facebook posts that go unnoticed, no comments, no likes, etc. Nobody cares about helping out with the boring, pre-stuff. They just want to be there in the moment. Nobody understands about the big picture. They just want to have their perfect part and do none of the work to make sure everything works out.

Are you beginning to see why I might be stressed out?

To make things worse, I received a couple of messages concerning this fundraiser from my boss last night, so I responded–like a normal human being would. And he then later, after responding to a few of them, creating a conversation, he told me that I needed to separate work and non-work time. He’s the one that brought all this work crap to my Sunday night. I’m not the one who needs to learn to separate work and non-work, mister!

I don’t even want to be a part of this dang fundraiser anymore. I really don’t. I just want to stay at home while it’s going on. That’s definitely not what’s going to happen though. I’m going to stress and stress and stress and reach my breaking point 13928574938572983 times in the next 2 weeks and then it’ll all be over and I can finally sleep.

But back to the point. I can’t talk to anybody! I can’t force the words out of my mouth. I’m struggling. I need some help. I’ve had a bad day. I’m anything but fine. 

Here’s my prediction though: Instead of asking for help like a normal human being, I’m going to push these feelings down further and further until they explode. I’ve already snapped at 2 people about this dang fundraiser (one was an accident, one was most definitely not). I’m going to explode and it’s going to be ugly, nobody is going to want to talk to me ever again and I’ll graduate with no friends, no life and no future (because “history majors don’t make money, why would you want to do that?”) (insert angry emoji)

Social anxiety comes back into play with the whole “snapping at people” thing. I don’t want people to hate me (I really don’t think anybody does). I also hate feeling like a burden to people. So talking about my problems in person makes me feel like I’m a burden to that person. I don’t want them to think I’m a complainer or a whiner or annoying because if they’re somebody that I admire/respect/love it would kill me to find out the truth.

Social anxiety wins again. I can’t leave the fundraiser because I want to please everybody. Type A personality wins out by not allowing me to leave the fundraiser because I want to make sure it’s perfect.

This is way too much stress. I just want to sleep (something that I’ve been slacking on lately). I just want to crawl into my bed and stay there for the next day and a half. Then maybe I’d feel better. I want to be able to tell my mom why I’m having a sucky day and crying in my bedroom. I want to be able to tell my boss that he hurt my feelings over something that I’m pretty sure he meant as a joke (but over text it came across as rude). I want to tell somebody that the stress of applying to grad school and writing 4 research papers is killing me. I just want to sleep.

But that wouldn’t please anybody. They’d think 13875298473 times less of me.

OH well. Guess social anxiety and my type A personality wins out again.

(Sorry for the rant, I had to do it).

Being an overthinker SUCKS. Big time.

Trust me, I know. I overthink EVERYTHING. It only causes anxiety for us. Especially when we don’t know whether or not we’re right or wrong.

Here’s a few tips for those of you who are dating an overthinker.

1. Be straightforward about what you want. The more confusing you are, the crazier your significant other will be. We just want you to say what you want. Is that so much to ask? You can’t send mixed signals. You have to be straightforward. It’s as simple as that. DON’T BE CONFUSING.

2. Never tell them you’re planning a surprise for them. If you’re going to surprise them, make it 100% surprising. Don’t just say “I’m going planning your surprise” and leave it there. Your significant other will think of every possible situation: good and bad. This can either be really bad or really good for you. If their ultimate decision is that it’s going to be a bad surprise, and it’s a great one…then you’re good. If the ultimate decision is this amazing surprise that’s way over the top and probably impossible, then anything you do will be a disappointment. Lesson here: don’t give off any hints to a surprise if you are planning one.

3. Body language means everything. As an overthinker myself, body language tells me everything I need to know. For example, if a guy chooses to sit next to me when there are plenty of other options of seating choices, then I start thinking about the implications of this. Usually, I’ve found if that happens, there’s some kind of interest: whether it be friendly or romantically depends on the situation, but still. You better learn all about body language and what everything you do says about you fast if you want your relationship to be straightforward and to the point (as it should be. See #1).

4. Watch what you say…especially on social media. This one is the most important, especially if your significant other is a girl. Before you start dating, nine times out of ten, they’ve looked you up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to see what’s important enough to you to post. You can learn a lot about a person by their social media pages. If you don’t want your significant other to know something, DON’T POST IT. Everything on social media is up for game for not only the overthinkers, but for everyone. The overthinkers will read into everything you’ve posted. If it’s vague, they’ll wonder who’s it about. Nine times out of ten it’ll be: Is this about me? 

5. They’re detail oriented…usually about everything. Make sure details are always taken care of. Overthinkers are usually good at logistical things, like planning, because they can think of every possible situation and use that to their advantage. For example, if I were to plan a date, I’d have all the details accounted for. I’d even have a back-up plan just in case something didn’t work out. As the one dating an overthinker, you’ve got to think like them in this capacity. You don’t want them asking “what now?” You need the details to be taken care of in everything that involves any kind of pre-planning. End of story.

So basically to sum up this article. Pay attention to details. Every little thing you do is going to be thought about…and thought about…and thought about. Also, be straightforward. Your overthinking significant other will appreciate it.

Here’s chapter 3 of that story I was telling y’all about! Enjoy!


 

Agent Tate looked down at his watch and stood up. All four teenagers looked in between each other, not sure of what to think of his actions. Was it a good or bad action? How were they doing? What was going on? None of them could be completely sure. 

“I’ve got to step outside for a few minutes. You’ll be allowed a bathroom break.”

And with that, Agent Tate walked out of the room. A soldier walked in moments after he walked in and politely offered to escort anybody to the bathroom. The change in demeanor of the soldiers surprised Julia. They had been nothing but rude and forceful only just yesterday. Something wasn’t quite right.

Adam glanced around and stood up.

It could have just been Julia, but she swore she saw him glare directly at Rachel. She knew what he was doing. Adam was giving Luke the chance to talk to her alone—which is something she wanted more than anything in the world, just not today. Not now. Not after what happened. Not after that awkward moment that screwed up their relationship and put their future in jeopardy. It was unavoidable. 

And she hated it.

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

Julia shook her head, trying to be subtle enough for Luke not to notice. Adam smirked, knowing exactly what he was doing.

Rachel stood up and followed Adam out of the room. The soldier left the room to escort them, leaving Luke and Julia alone.

The small room with the one table seemed even smaller, despite the loss of people. The room felt colder and it had nothing to do with the air conditioner. Julia looked down at her lap, avoiding Luke’s gaze.

Her right shoulder felt the weight of the sling pushing down on it, the strap digging into her skin. She took a shaky breath and reached with her left arm and tried to reach up to adjust the shoulder. The pain in her arm made it difficult to reach far enough to adjust the strap.

“Here, let me help you with that.” Luke reached over and adjusted the strap for her, conveniently situating himself so that his face was inches away from hers.

He adjusted the strap and looked her in the eyes. His sparkling green eyes bore into her electric blue ones.

“Luke…”

Before she could say anything else, Luke closed the small gap between them and kissed her gently on the lips. For those few brief seconds, everything disappeared in Julia’s mind. All she thought about was him. The good memories, that is. She remembered the reasons she had fallen in love with him in the first place. He pulled back just a few inches and placed his hand on her cheek, his thumb stroking it slowly and gently. 

“We’ll get through this Jules.” His whisper was soft and sweet, like the cherry on top of a sundae. He had that effect on her. She felt the tears welling up in her eyes and it took all of her willpower to push them down.

“You know that’s not what I want to talk about,” she whispered back. She could hear the shakiness in her voice. “What we need to talk about.”

Luke leaned back a little bit more, slowly removing his hand from her cheek. He composed himself and started the inevitable conversation.

“I’m not taking it back Jules. Yes, it was bad timing. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have shoved that on you at that moment. But I…I don’t regret it.”

“You don’t regret throwing that heavy burden on me?”

Luke shook his head and took her hands in his. She regretted her words immediately. A heavy burden? Inside her mind, she was banging her head on the table. 

“I don’t think of it that way, Jules. I…” He took a deep breath and gripped her hands a little tighter. “Something changed in London Jules. I…I had that light bulb moment that they always have in the movies. I realized that my life…it…it meant nothing without you in it. I realized that it didn’t matter when I saw you next, but I made my choice then and there that I was going to marry you someday. And…and I had to say something to let you know how I feel before I let you slip away.”

Luke leaned in a little bit closer. “I don’t ever intend on letting you slip away from me ever again, Jules. Not ever. And someday in the future you and I are gonna get married and everything will be perfect but today…”

Luke smiled, despite the fact that he was close to tears himself—mostly from the pain in his leg, but he wasn’t going to let her know that. He pushed the tears away. “Today…I want to make the commitment.”

Julia froze. Luke hates commitments. He’s horrible at them. It’s the reason why their relationship had a rocky start in the first place. It’s why she was worried he was going to leave their mission at any second. He just didn’t do commitments.

But he kept going.

“I want you to know that I will always be there for you every hour of every day. And that I’m gonna love you every second that I’m breathing and with every beat of my heart. I—”

“Stop,” Julia closed her eyes. “Please.” 

Luke watched her intently as she gathered her thoughts. So many things to say. She knew they were pressed for time. Agent Tate, Adam or Rachel could walk in at any moment. This could be their last chance to talk alone. She would be stupid to believe no one was listening in or watching through the security camera perched in the corner of the room, but at this moment it was just her and Luke. 

Julia searched his eyes for any sign of doubt. If there was even the slightest hint of doubt, she could say no. She could push him away. She could not have to deal with this. She wouldn’t have to worry about hurting him. She could go through with the plan knowing that he would be able to move on someday and marry thereal girl of his dreams. That tiny bit of doubt would make what she had to do easier. 

But she couldn’t find anything but love. True, unconditional love. Damn, she cursed inside her mind. Julia swallowed back the guilt and the deceit and the lies and let a tear escape down her cheek.

It was Julia who closed the gap this time, pressing her lips against his. She didn’t want to make it too passionate or he would know something was up. It was gentle, kind, loving and purely magical. If her life were a cheesy movie, fireworks would be going off in the background. She knew these kisses had to stop, or she wouldn’t be able to do what she knew had to be done, but she couldn’t help it.

Julia leaned back just far enough to where their foreheads were touching.

“I love you Luke, you know that, right?” Julia’s whispers were so low in volume that no listening device could pick her voice up.

Luke kissed her on the tip of her nose. “Right. I don’t want to rush you sweetheart, I just want you to know that I am committed to us.”
Luke’s hand snaked around her shoulders, resting lightly on top of her right shoulder. 

“I…” Her moment to tell him the truth came. But why couldn’t she do it? Why couldn’t she tell him what was coming? Why couldn’t she tell him the real reason she turned him down before?

“You can tell me anything. The pact, remember?” Luke whispered as he searched her eyes for answers. “What’s wrong?”

He kissed her again, this time on her cheek, right on top of a small, thin, white line of a scar she had gotten while captured in France a few years ago. “We can get through it together.”

Julia grabbed Luke’s free hand with her left hand and gripped it with all her might. “Things…things are only going to get worse.” A few more tears fell down her cheeks. She didn’t bother to wipe them away and neither did Luke.

“People are going to die, Luke.”

A tingling sensation spread through her leg as a tear fell onto her skin right where her jeans had been torn. Julia assumed it was a result of her fight with Maddie, even though she still couldn’t remember it. Despite the strange feeling, Julia didn’t shutter. She leaned forward and kissed Luke’s cheek, lingering there after she did so.

“But now is not the time to be talking about the future,” she whispered into his ear. “Let’s focus on making it out alive for right now.” She kissed him once more on the cheek, this time quickly. “We have the rest of our lives to figure out what we want to do but we have to make decisions about our situation we’re in now or we’re going to die.”

Luke nodded, almost sadly, as if he knew what was coming but didn’t want to acknowledge it by talking.

He kissed her on the forehead. “I love you Jules. I’m going to be with you to the very end. Always.”

You can’t…

He let go of her and sat in his original position as the door opened and Adam and Rachel came in.

Adam and Rachel walked in and sat down. Julia adjusted the strap on her sling once more, her left hand shaking as she did so. The four sat in silence for a few moments, waiting for Agent Tate to reappear.

Underneath the table, Luke’s hand found Julia’s free one. He gently squeezed it, attempting to give her a boost of confidence. It wasn’t working. He didn’t know what was coming. He didn’t know the heartache headed their way. He didn’t know what she had done.

The door opened and another man in a tuxedo and red, Boston Red Sox baseball cap walked in.

“You’ve got five minutes before Special Agent Tate comes back,” the soldier commanded before he left the room, making sure to slam the door before leaving.

He sat where Agent Tate had only minutes before. He took off his jacket and cap off, revealing his true identity.

The family resemblance to Julia was uncanny. They both had the same brown hair and electric blue eyes. He was a few inches older than her and had this old aura around him. Spending a lot of time in the past did that to a person, as the four teenagers had found over the past four years.

“Dustin?” Julia gasped. She leaned forward to get a better look at him. “How—”

“No time for how and why, my dear,” Dustin smiled at his niece. “We need to talk about your situation.”

“What do you suggest we do?” Adam asked.

“How do we get out of here?” Rachel continued.

“Where are our parents?”

“When can we go home?”

“Where is Maddie?”

At the mention of her aunt, Julia cringed. Luke’s grip on her hand grew tighter. The silence created a dangerous ambiance for the four teenagers. Anything they said could lead to their conviction, and later their execution. They had to tread carefully.

“I’m here to help, and I’m doing my best to get you four out of here, but they’ve got some serious evidence against you.” Dustin leaned forward on the table with his elbows. “It’s pretty damning.”

Her uncle’s look told it all. This had everything to do with what he had talked to her about a week before she fought Maddie—about twelve days ago.

“What is it?” Luke asked.

Dustin flashed Julia another look and she squeezed Luke’s hand. He glanced her way, but she refused to look at him.

“Dustin, is there any chance at all that we might get out of this alive?” Julia asked quietly. She felt the eyes of her three friends on her, but she couldn’t look their way. Dustin would be able to find away out, if there was one to find.

“A very small chance, Julia, but it will require more risks that expected.”

She nodded, knowing exactly what he was saying. With great risks and sacrifices comes great rewards. If they were to save the world, they would have to sacrifice a lot. For Julia, it would be the life she knew and love.

“What does that mean?” Rachel asked, obviously frustrated with the secrets. “What else do we have to sacrifice? We’ve already given up so much already!”

Dustin nodded in Julia’s direction. “Julia knows what is required.”

A moment of silence followed but Dustin quickly broke it.

“But that’s not why I am here. Today, I am your lawyer and I don’t think telling the full story is a good idea.”

“But we didn’t do anything wrong!” Rachel whined.

Dustin reached and grabbed her hand, patting it lightly as if she were a child. “I know my dear. I know. But it would risk putting all of you in even more danger. We can’t have that happen before Maddie strikes back. If you all are stuck here, you won’t be able to save us.”

“Then what do we do?” Luke asked him. “We’ve already started telling the story.”

“I know that,” Dustin leaned across the table and lowered his voice impossibly low so that no recording device could hear him. “Just don’t tell them about Jonathon.”

“Why not? He’s a huge part of the story.”

“Then be light on details. You don’t know him that well.” Dustin leaned back in his chair. “He’s as mysterious as Evan.”

Dustin looked straight at Julia when mentioning Evan and she knew that this was code for something. Now she only had to figure out what it stood for.

Luke’s face scrunched up in anger. Rachel didn’t seem to know what Dustin was talking about. Adam, on the other hand, seemed to understand. Adam had always been suspicious of Evan for reasons unknown to Julia. After her first semester at the University of Virginia, she wasn’t questioning him for a minute.

Julia nodded. “Any other advice before you have to go?”

“Stay confident. You four will get through this.”

After looking at each of the four for a few seconds, Dustin stood from the table and walked over to the other side. Julia slowly stood and gave her uncle a hug, knowing that this could very well be the last one they ever share.

“Be wary of what you say. Agent Tate isn’t the only one listening. She is too,” he whispered into her ear. “We’ll talk soon about what has to be done.”

He let go of her and waved to the others as he walked out of the room. Julia slowly sat back down in her chair and Luke draped his arm on the back of her chair. 

“Is it just me or does that guy get more mysterious after every visit?” Luke asked the group. 

Rachel shrugged. Adam had his eyes closed and was tapping his fingers on his thigh. Julia knew this look all too well: he was trying to figure things out. Julia did nothing but stare at the chair in which her uncle had just occupied, not wanting to explain things to Adam if he figured things out before Agent Tate came back. Luke and Rachel talked around them, but Julia blocked all of it out. That is until Rachel spoke up.

“Are you alright Jules? You seem out of it.”

Julia blinked and looked over toward her best friend.

Adam opened his eyes and turned to face Julia. “Is it one of your injuries? Do you need a doctor?” His eyes revealed nothing. If he had solved the puzzle, he wasn’t ready to talk about it yet.

Honestly, neither was Julia. She took a deep breath of relief, then shook her head. “I’m fine, Adam. Thanks though.”

“Are you sure?” Rachel asked. Julia could see the concern on her friend’s face. She wanted so badly to tell them what was coming. To vent. To get their opinions. But she couldn’t. Dustin reminded her of that.

Despite having her three best friends sitting beside her, Julia had never felt so alone.

Agent Tate burst through the door and sat back down, straightening his suit. He picked up his pen and started tapping it nervously against the piece of paper. Julia didn’t think to look at it while he was gone, and he didn’t care.

Agent Tate looked up, focusing in on Julia. “So where does the story go next?”

 

Hey guys! Sorry it’s taken so long to get this chapter up! I had it all ready to go and completely forgot to press the “Publish” button. My bad! 

So here’s chapter 2. As a refresher, it’s in Julia’s POV and she’s telling Agent Tate the beginning of their story.


September 18, 2008. It was a Thursday.

After Luke got out of football practice, he treated me and Adam to free pizza at his uncle’s place downtown. We sat at our usual booth in the corner. Luke used a knife to carve another tally mark underneath the table. Adam used a napkin to get rid of the grease off the pizza like usual—and as usual, Luke and I laughed at him.

Luke’s Uncle Shawn came over, sang “happy birthday” and even handed me a gift card for his restaurant—which didn’t matter, he never charged me anyway. Being his, and I quote, “favorite little girl” had its perks.

We went back home to my house to hang out and watch the Boston Red Sox game. Dad would have gotten on to me if I had told him we didn’t watch the game. Birthday or not.

As if on cue, my mom yelled out from the kitchen the second the door was opened. “Hey there birthday girl! Your Uncle Dustin’s package came. It’s on the kitchen counter.”

Now if there was one thing I could always expect on my birthday, it was one awesome present from Uncle Dustin (mom’s older brother). They ranged from a poncho woven in Argentina to a small marble bust of a Greek god or goddess (I still can’t tell which one it is, honestly). When we lived back in Georgia, he would stop by all the time and tell me stories about all the places he had been, all the types of people he had met and all the cool things he had done. After we moved up to Boston, he rarely visited. He never gave me an explanation for why he never showed up anymore, but he always sent a gift on my birthday. If there was one thing that was constant in my life, and always has been. It’s been Uncle Dustin’s birthday gift.

“Now that I think about it, most of his stories are probably true. I used to think he was the world’s biggest liar, but there’s no way I would think that now.”

Adam scoffed, crossing his arms. “Yeah right Julia. I’m positive the Atlantis story isn’t true.”

“Atlantis?” Agent Tate asked, for his own curiosity.

Julia waved his question off with her non-injured hand. “Long story. And completely irrelevant to this part of the story.”

So I walked into the kitchen and saw the package. I saw down on one of the stools next to the counter. Luke came up behind me.

“Open it already, dang it! It’s not just going to sit there. It wants you to open it.”

I rolled my eyes and opened the box, picking up the envelope on top. It was a handwritten note from the infamous uncle himself.

My dearest niece Julia,

I hope you enjoy this book. It has all the knowledge you could ever want or need. You’ll find great adventures, the world’s best romances and its worst criminals. And you might just find something about yourself along the way. If you have any questions about what you find, don’t hesitate to ask.

With love, Dustin.

I put down the note on the counter next to the box and saw that nothing was in the box…the already opened box. I turned around and saw Luke holding up a huge textbook.

“You know the part in the movies where there’s dramatic music playing that makes it seem like something amazing is about to happen and then nothing happens and you’re all disappointed? If our lives were ever made into a movie, that’s exactly what would happen.”

“Dude you got a textbook for a present!” Luke said as he tossed it to me. “The universe is telling you that you’re dumb.”

I put the book back on the counter. “I thought you were the dumb one?”

Luke stuck his tongue out at me right as my mom came over.

“Oh I haven’t seen this book in years!” I turned around and watched as my mom treated the book as if it was some rare diamond. She picked it up and gently started flipping through the pages. “Your uncle and I used to read this all the time. It meant a lot to us.” She sighed as if remembering that wonderful childhood of hers that she always referenced but never talked about. She coughed, bringing herself back to reality. “I meant him…It meant a lot to him.” She straightened up. I could have sworn she had a few tears forming in her eyes, but I could never be sure with her. “It’s a big deal for him to give something like this up.”

She put the book back down right in front of me and walked out of the kitchen, ending that conversation.

Luke put his hand on my shoulder. “Congrats Jules. You inherited a textbook.”

Adam ran his hand over the cover, trying not to laugh. “It’s such a beautiful heirloom. What on earth are you going to do with it?”

“Oh you two just shut up!” I got up and walked up the stairs to my bedroom, leaving the book behind.

“Now as much as I’d like to hear your minute-by-minute analysis of your fifteenth birthday, Holbrook. I’d like to actually hear the stuff that matters.”

Julia pretended to be offended, eyes wide and everything. “I’m insulted Tate. This is important.” 

Tate glared at her, as if to say really? Her mocking sarcasm wasn’t going to get her very far and she knew that. It was almost as if she knew she was fighting a losing battle.

Julia waved him off. “Oh, fine. I’ll skip the game—which was amazing, by the way—and get to the good stuff.”

It was almost midnight—11:47 P.M. to be exact—when Luke and Adam finally left. I brushed my teeth, changed into my pajamas—black Nike dry-fit short with a red Boston Red Sox t-shirt—and plopped down onto the bed.

I had finally gotten all relaxed and was about to turn off my bedside lamp when I saw my new textbook on the foot of my bed.

I let out a frustrated sigh and sat up. Obviously mom had moved it there while I was distracted by the game.

At first, I just stared at it, unsure of what to do.

The cover was black. No words. Nothing. It had to be at least like a thousand pages thick. The book was obviously very old. The corners of the pages were burnt, torn, bent, etc.

I figured if it meant so much to Dustin I should probably at least look at it. I started flipping pages at random.

Page 32: Ancient Roman architecture. A few notes were scribbled on the side, but the ink had bled together—like it does when paper gets wet—so I couldn’t read it.

Page 732: Napoleon in Egypt.

Page 398: Jamestown.

Page 115: Samurais. At first, I could have sworn the article was written in Japanese, but then I blinked and it was in English. Back then, I thought it was because I was just tired.

Boy, was I wrong!

Page 1488: Somali Pirates.

Page 99: Rebellion Finally Crushed in Boston. The newspaper article was dated 2099.

I pulled the book a little closer so that I could look at the newspaper article better. There was a picture that took up the top half of the article. The main focus of the pictures was an old street sign that read 3rd AVE, which was the name of the street that I lived on. I looked past the street sign to see the street and saw destruction: bombed buildings, rubble in the streets, soldiers with huge guns walking around checking it out.

And I made the dumb decision to say the following out loud: “What the heck? When did that happen? I don’t remember that hearing about that in history class.”

The book decided to show me that it didn’t make anything up…the hard way.

“I’m going to skip all the details of exactly how the books.” Julia looked over at Adam. “I don’t want to confuse him anymore than he already is. Unless you want to explain Mr. Theoretical Physicist.”

Adam shook his head. “We don’t have time to explain exactly how time travel works. We’d be here for a decade. Besides, nobody truly knows how it works.”

Julia smiled. “Point Adam.”

Agent Tate and Luke both simultaneously rolled their eyes. “Keep going Holbrook,” the FBI agent muttered through gritted teeth. These kids were really starting to get on his nerves. He had a million other things he could be doing right now, but instead he was stuck listening to four delinquent teens tell their story about time traveling. More like four loons escaped from the looney bin, Agent Tate thought to himself.

So long story short, I fell down onto the sidewalk—which hurt a ton.

Just at first glances, the street looked just like one of the many streets of Boston. Various historic looking buildings on either side of the street with a small roadway for cars. A bunch of cars were parallel parked on the side of the road…but they looked…how do I put this…futuristic? They weren’t flying cars—you would think they would, being 100 years in the future, but they weren’t. The people were dressed fairly normal. No crazy outfits. Just regular clothes. Honestly, I could barely tell I was 100 years in the future.

I forced myself up to see two girls standing in front of me.

The girl on the left was wearing black pants that hugged her curves. Her black leather jacket covered up the bright, neon yellow shirt underneath. Her black hair was pulled up into a tight ponytail, making her look even more intimidating. She had darker skin and ice-cold grey eyes. She was definitely giving me the creeps.

The girl next to her had bleach blonde hair that was perfectly straight, bangs pinned back with a few bobby pins. She was wearing the same black pants but she had a long-sleeved pink shirt. She was about as pale as snow. If she had black hair, I would have totally called her Snow White. Her smile was contagious, but it seemed to overshadow the fact that something made her seem out of place. I just couldn’t put my finger on it quite yet.

Both had the same black bracelet on. It had a glowing green W on it.

“Hey! Are you okay? You took a pretty hard fall there!” The blonde asked me as the other brushed my shoulders off. “My name’s Candy. What’s yours?”

“Julia…where am I?”

The two girls looked at each other and laughed.

“Boston silly!” Candy said in between giggles. “You would think you would know where you are! You used to live here and all.”

Candy turned around and started walking down the street.

The other girl held out her hand for me to shake. “I’m Maria Lynn. Call me Lynn.”

I shook her hand and she started walking down the street after Candy. “Come on Julia,” Lynn called out. “We’ve got places to be, people to see, things to discuss!”

After catching up, I realized I had more questions than I could spit out. So I started with the obvious one.

“How did you know that I used to live here? Whoa…wait…I live in Boston right now!”

The two girls stopped in their tracks and looked at each other as if what I had said was a taboo of some kind.

Candy got really close to me and whispered into my ear. “Welcome to 2108, Julia. Please don’t freak out too much.”

I stumbled backward, away from her, and stared wide-eyed at the pair of girls. “WHAT?”

“Sshhh…we’ll explain that later. But…not here.” Lynn kept walking again, but a lot faster this time.

None of us said another word until we got to wherever they were headed. It was an apartment, which based on some of the other buildings we walked past, was super old. Candy ushered us in and shut the door behind us. She locked the door with six different locks. Paranoid, much?

I then followed Candy and Lynn down some stairs into a sketchy basement. Lynn reached up and pulled down on a piece of string and one single light bulb turned on. I hadn’t seen anything like that in ages.

A bunch of random boxes overflowing with multiple generations worth of stuff. There were three book shelves overflowing with more stuff—not just books, but mostly—giving it the abandoned library look. One wooden table, about to fall apart, was located near the stairs.

The room looked like something straight out of an old 80’s movie. Nope, I take that back. Even further…like 60’s or 70’s. Nobody has basements like that anymore (at least I don’t think so…). So the fact that it was here in the future made it extra ancient, in my opinion.

Candy, Lynn and I all sat down at the horribly built table. Candy started the conversation I was so anxious to have.

“Okay, now that we’re in a secure location we can talk. We know you Julia because—” Lynn elbowed her.

“Don’t start with that!” Lynn scolded her.

“It’ll get it out in the open. She’s got to know eventually!”

“We are not starting off the conversation with that,” Lynn said through gritted teeth.

“Fine,” Candy rolled her eyes. “Where do we start then?”

Lynn thought for a second and sighed, crossing her arms out of frustration. “We should have thought this through more. We knew she was coming after all.”

“So let me get this straight, you knew I was coming?” I asked.

Another look shared between the girls. There was so much they weren’t telling me. This conversation was going to be the tip of the iceberg. I knew that much for sure.

“We…uh…can’t tell you how we knew you were coming,” Lynn started.

“That’s ultra-complicated,” Candy added.

“Yes, but we can tell you the simpler stuff. Like that book your uncle gave you for your birthday? That’s super important and much easier to explain.”

“Okay…and how is that textbook important?” I ask, putting my elbows on the table, leaning forward.

“We all belong to this…this…kind of secret club or…uh…organization. And this organization revolves around time travel.”

Both Lynn and Candy raised their wrists and showed their bracelets off.

“A secret organization? You’re going to have to explain more.”

Why I didn’t question the time travel part immediately puzzled me. For some reason I wasn’t shock about time travel, but I was shocked that I wasn’t shocked. If that makes any sense.

“See there is this…this…”

“Power source,” Candy cut in. “And it’s the only reason that time travel is possible. For as far back as history can go, there have been select people that have had knowledge of this. And somewhere early in human history, the power source got broken up into nine pieces.”

Candy then got up and started searching for something on the bookcase behind her, continuing to talk as she went.

“And see there’s a member of this…organization, per se, that went rogue—or at least, is going to go rogue—and wants to take over the power source and use it to take over the world. Or something like that. You know, typical bad guy stuff.

“And see one of the oldest members thought that this would come and figured out a solution for it. I have a copy of that letter in here somewhere.”

After searching around for a few minutes, Candy finally found what she was looking for and brought it back to the table and pushed it over towards me. “It basically states how when this bad guy comes about, there has to be a group of four ’members’ that will be the only ones to be able to find the pieces of this power source and put them back together—with the help of…others.” Lynn elbowed Candy, but she ignored it and continued. I noted that the “others’ seemed like at touchy subject for them. “But only one of the four will have the ability to destroy the bad guy for good. It’s been the general idea that the one will be a member of the Ducit family.”

“The what family?” I asked, trying to keep up with what Candy was saying.

“Ducit…it’s Latin for leading. The leading family…or…the…umm…royal family per se.”

“Do you know how the British Parliament works?” Lynn interjected.

I shrugged. “A little, why?”

“It’s like the Ducits are the House of Lords and the other members are the House of Commons.”

“Oh.”

“That’s the easiest way to explain it,” Candy ceded.

“And,” Lynn getting us back on track, “we think that you are apart of the Ducit family and Luke and Adam are two of your companions.”

All that I could do is stare at this letter. What are you supposed to say to that? These girls I just met claim that we’re all apart of some secret club that’s as old as dirt and that Luke, Adam and I are going to basically “restore peace to the universe.” WHAT? 

Did I really just say that?

Luke? The guy who is a huge player and is dumber than a rock.

Adam? The nerdy guy who is scared of literally everything.

Me? The most average and invisible girl ever.

There was no way they were talking about us.

“Hey!” Luke and Adam yelled out at the same time.

Julia shrugged. “I’m not taking it back.”

Adam rolled his eyes and Luke pouted like a little child. Some things never change.

I’m pretty sure the reason that I didn’t say anything immediately was because my mind was blown into a million…nope, a trillion…pieces.

“How did you know I am apart of the Ducit family?” I asked. If I was some kind of time travel royalty, I wanted to know about it.

Lynn leaned forward on her elbows and continued, this time ten times more serious.

“You have the book in your possession correct?” I nodded. “Only members of the Ducit family can be in possession of such a thing.”

“And you think that means that I’ll be the one to save the world?”

Lynn nodded. “It makes the most sense.”

Candy must have seen my freaked-out look get even worse because she jumped in and elaborate.

“If you ever meet another Warper, they’ll treat you like royalty,” Candy said, in an effort to make me feel better. Honestly, it didn’t.

“Warper?”

“It’s the name of the secret organization. The Warpers.”

I stared down at the paper. am the one who’s going to have to save the world. This is not happening. Worst. Birthday. Ever.

We sat in silence for a few minutes. Lynn and Candy told me to ask anything and that they would try their best to answer. They wanted me to understand. If this was all true, I definitely wanted them to help. They seemed to know what was going on—at least most of it.

I took a deep breath and looked up at both girls. “You said there were four people, but you only named three.”

“That’s because we don’t know who the fourth one is yet.” Candy answered. “You’ll have to figure that one out on your own.”

“But—”

“Don’t even ask how to figure that out,” Lynn interrupted. “We don’t know.”

“Okay…” I took a moment to contemplate that and figure out my next question. “So how do you know when the pieces are missing?”

“The more pieces that go missing, the more bad things that start happening.” Lynn explained. “Things like natural disasters, epidemics, wars, rebellions…you get the picture. Supposedly the ninth piece disappeared the day the so-called ‘savior’ was born.”

Lynn looked right at me. Her use of air quotes made the savior sound like a joke.

“But bad things happen all the time, how do you tell the difference?”

“The difference is: those who belong to the Warpers will either know it’s going to happen beforehand or will be the cause of it.”

“Wait a minute. So you’re saying sometimes you know natural disasters are going to happen before they actually do? Wouldn’t you want to tell somebody and save some lives?”

“We don’t find out that far in advance.” Lynn rolled her eyes. “It’s usually like a weird feeling a few minutes before.”

“So you just get a weird feeling and then you know something bad is going to happen?” I was having a hard time believing this at the moment.

“Pretty much. And usually the rebellions that occur after another piece has gone missing have to deal with us too. Seven times out of ten it’s just some crazy people outside of the organization finding out about us and trying to do something about it. The other three times it’s the government trying to shut us down. Neither work out really good for either of us.”

“This would be one of those other three times, Agent Tate,” Julia added quickly.

“So it’s mostly crazy conspiracy theorists finding evidence?”

“Yeah. The sloppy Warpers leave evidence,” Lynn said eyeing Candy. I sensed a lot of tension, but neither of them looked like they wanted to talk about it.

“The last big rebellion was in 1848. “Candy added, dismissing Lynn’s comment. “Well if you don’t count the one from a few years ago.” Candy glanced at Lynn, but she dismissed it and continued.

I think they were referring to the 2099 Boston rebellion I saw in the book, but I didn’t mention that.

“But the one in 1848 was the exception to the rule,” Lynn retorted. “Most people think that the best evidence for most of the pieces being gone is having two world wars within thirty years of each other.”

It could have just been me, but Lynn seemed as bored as I was back in Mr. Morris’ seventh-grade science class.

“Wasn’t that the first class we had together in Boston?” Luke interrupted.

Julia gave Luke a smile. “It was.”

Luke rolled his eyes at the memory. “I hated that class!”

“You two can have your little lovey-dovey moments on your own time,” Agent Tate rolled his own eyes. Julia glanced down at his legal pad and saw that he had a few things written down. That could be really good or really bad. Julia cleared her throat and continued.

“What happened in 1848?” I felt even more lost. I probably should have paid more attention in world history class. But in my defense, we hadn’t make it past the year 0 yet. So it’s really not my fault I wasn’t clued in.

It became obvious to me that I would need to pay a lot more attention in that class from now on.

Lynn rolled her eyes. My lack of history knowledge was annoying to her…along with a lot of other things, as I would find out in years to come. “In 1848, rebellions spread all over Europe. Most historians say that it was just the common people rebelling against conservative governments, but we don’t believe that to be true.”

“Why not?”

“Because we have evidence that some of the main leaders of the rebellions knew about time travel and were using it as leverage to overthrow the government.”

“How does that make it the exception to the rule? You said seven out of ten—”

Lynn waved my question off. “It’s the exception because only three pieces missing at that point in time, which isn’t very dangerous at all!”

“How many pieces have to be gone before its deemed ‘dangerous?’”

I’m gonna be honest here, I was being a little bit sarcastic with her. Lynn’s one of those people that you’re sarcastic to and then regret it later.

“Four. After that, it’s like a slippery slope.”

“Well then how come the world hasn’t come crashing down yet?”

Again, more sarcasm.

“Because there is said to be a certain amount of time between the day the last piece goes missing and the end of the world. We think it’s around 20 years. According to that letter the clock starts ticking—”

“Lemme guess…when the ‘savior’ is born?”

Before Lynn could retort, Candy jumped in.

“Jonathon thinks that started on your birthday. September 18th 1993. So you have until your twentieth birthday to find them all.”

“Who’s Jonathon?” I asked. This was way too much information to take in at one time. With every thing that came out of their mouths, I got more confused.

Candy’s eyes went wide. She covered her mouth with one of her hands and slowly turned to face Lynn.

Lynn glared at Candy. It was a few intense moments before Lynn cleared her throat. “He’s a friend of ours.”

“He knows just about everything you could possibly want to know about this,” Candy added.

“Then why isn’t he here?” I asked. “Shouldn’t I be asking him these questions?”

I’m sure the frustration in my voice was showing. Lynn was glaring at Candy even more now. Candy looked like she wanted to drown herself in her own sea of guilt. Obviously Jonathon was someone I wasn’t supposed to know about.

“He…he couldn’t make it,” Candy whispered. Her eyes were locked on her hands in her lap.

There was a long, drawn out awkward silence I spoke up.

“So do you have any ideas on where this first power source piece is?”

“Actually, we do!” Candy jumped up and put the letter back on the shelf. She seemed extra eager to get a chance to leave that awkward conversation. “We knows its on 3rd Avenue somewhere, but we didn’t want to risk getting caught there without you guys.”

“So it’s here? In Boston? In…in…2108?”

“The sooner we find it, the sooner we can all go home.” Lynn said bluntly. Something told me she was still really ticked about the whole Jonathon thing.

“Where is home for you two exactly?” I asked slowly. They shared another look. “Oh stop with the looks and just tell me, dang it!”

Lynn rolled her eyes. “For me, my hometown is Boston. For Candy…”

Candy’s eager expression turned to a sour one. “My home…isn’t here. Not in 2108.”

“So you time travelled here…like me?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Candy’s gaze lingered on the floor. “I don’t really have the option of going home, unlike you. I’ll go to another place.”

Lynn took the mysterious comment as the “let’s get out of here” cue. I was so glad she had, because I was ready to get out of here too. I wanted to go home. Now.

Candy and I followed Lynn up the stairs and out of the house. We then walked around the city until we stood at the beginning of 3rd Avenue.

3rd Avenue looked exactly like it did in the newspaper article I found in the book—minus the soldiers. It was completely empty. It was almost unrecognizable to the 2008 version. Half of the buildings were torn down. Windows were broken. Doors broken down. The piles of rubble were neat piles now, as if someone had gone on a cleaning spree and were waiting for the giant trash trucks to come take them away—except the trash trucks never came.

Lynn and Candy immediately slipped into the first alley on the right. At the end of the alley there was a dented trashcan. I followed Candy over to it while Lynn kept watch. Inside the trashcan were two pistols and one shotgun hidden underneath old newspapers.

“W-w-what are those for?” I asked–

Adam burst out into laughter. Julia turned to him and smirked. “I thought you’d enjoy that.”

“What’s so funny, Washington?” Agent Tate asked, oblivious as to how her story had taken a hilarious turn. Rachel covered her mouth to hide her laughter.

Adam composed himself. “Sorry. Sorry. Inside joke.” 

“Goes back to the time we went to Ancient Greece,” Julia could hardly keep the smile off her face at the memory. “Luke and this girl in the camp and…oh we’ll get there.” 

Luke crossed his arms. “You both suck,” he mumbled under his breath.

Where was I? Oh yeah… “what are those for?” In all truth, I didn’t actually say that exact line, but I did ask why guns were necessary on a deserted street.

“We’re not supposed to be here,” Candy whispered. “3rd Avenue was the base for the Boston rebellion for the longest time. We need to be careful.” She checked all three guns to make sure they were loaded. She handed me one of the pistols and we headed back to Lynn.

I later found out that the reason they didn’t have futuristic weapons was due to GPS chips. Before the rebellion started, the government added chips to several new types of guns before distribution. That’s how they raided so many rebel bases in the beginning. Eventually, the rebels caught on and reverted back to the older guns—guns that couldn’t be tracked with a GPS.

“Oh,” Julia added, glancing at Adam briefly. She looked down as if she was in shame before slowly returning her gaze to Agent Tate’s. “Sorry, uh…spoiler alert…for the future.”

We carefully headed out of the alley and slowly worked our way along the edge of the street. I felt like I was in a horror movie trying to run away from the serial killer. After getting about halfway down the street, I finally saw something I recognized: my house.

The only thing that was different was a couple of busted windows. I couldn’t help wanting to know what it looked like on the inside after all these years. Before I realized what I was doing I walked up the steps and stood in front of the front door. There were some bullet holes going through the door and the paint was faded and chipped. Dad, if he were alive in 2108, would be furious.

“Are you sure you want to see it?” Lynn whispered from behind me. I turned around and saw that she was on the top step staring at me. Candy was crouched down beside the bottom of the stairs, watching the street.

“I don’t know. Is there something I’m going to find in there that I’m not going to like?”

Lynn shrugged. “No clue. The entire street’s been abandoned for about nine years now. There’s no telling what you’re going to find.”

I nodded and turned back around, slowly turning the door knob. Holding the gun in front of me–like they do on those crime shows, you know what I’m talking about Agent Tate–I walked around what used to be my house. All the furniture was gone. In the kitchen, there were a few broken pieces of china thrown on the floor. The stairs leading up to the bedrooms were torn to pieces. I walked around to where the top of the basement stairs was. I opened the door to find them still in tact.

I motioned to Candy and Lynn that I was going downstairs and they nodded. With my gun held in front of me, I slowly started descending down the stairs. There was no telling what I was going to find. I stopped at every single sound I heard, even the creaking of the stairs.

Once at the bottom, I led my hand along the side of the wall until I found the light switch. Since there were no windows in the basement, I figured turning on a light would be safe. I flipped the switch and a complete mess was revealed to me.

Books were thrown around. Chairs smashed against the walls. Picture frames broken.

Overall, just a chaotic mess.

I lowered gun and started looking through all the stuff. Nothing really looked like it belonged to my family and I. Most of it was business papers, statistical analysis worksheets and newspapers from the late 2000’s. I was about to head back upstairs when I saw one picture in the corner. It was of Luke, Adam and I when we were twelve. I can still remember the exact day that picture was taken.

“Let me guess, you’re going to tell me the story behind the picture?” Agent Tate asked sarcastically.

“I wasn’t,” Julia smiled. “But now that you made a comment about it, I’m going to.”

It was just a few weeks after Luke had moved to Boston back in 7th grade. Luke and I were at some stupid work party that our parents dragged us to. Being the social butterflies that we were, Luke and I took our plates of food, sat on the couch and were watching Jeopardy. If the party had been at either of our houses we probably would have locked ourselves in one of our rooms and played video games, but since this was somebody else’s house, Jeopardy on the couch was the best we could do.

Alex Trebek read the clue to three contestants: “Of all the romance languages, it has the greatest number of native speakers in one country.”

“Romance language? Uh…flirting?” Luke said with a mouthful of food.

I slapped his arm. “No, stupid, it’s French. Nobody speaks French outside of France! And besides, the French are very romantic.” I waved a French fry in front of his face. “They have a whole type of kissing named after them.”

Luke winked. “I know, I’ve French kissed plenty of girls.”

I rolled my eyes, but before I could reply, somebody behind us spoke up.

“It’s Portuguese.”

Luke and I turned around to see Adam Washington standing there with a plate of food in his hands. He was the smart kid who had skipped a grade and was now in my math class.

“What are you doing here Adam?” I asked him. I could have cared less about getting the answer completely wrong.

“This is my house,” Adam retorted. After a few awkward seconds, he continued. “My step-dad is the catcher for the Red Sox.” Adam walked over and sat on the couch next to me.

Luke and I both looked at each other and shrugged. It couldn’t hurt to have another kid join our little anti-social group.

“I didn’t know you would be here Julia.”

“Yeah, my dad is the first basemen. Luke’s is the third.”

“Hey you’re that nerd that skipped a grade right?” Luke blurted out, pointing his fork at Adam, mouth full of food.

“Yeah, that’s me,” Adam whispered, looking at his food now. I punched Luke in the arm.

“Luke, that’s mean! Play nice!”

“It’s okay,” Adam said, “I’ve heard worse.”

Adam sighed and turned back to Jeopardy. After losing an intense staring contest to me, Luke apologized to Adam and we continued to fight over Jeopardy. Adam showed both of us up.

My mom had came in later and taken the picture of us three sitting on the couch. It was the first picture we ever had together and it was one of my favorites. Luke was pointing at the screen with a French fry, arguing that his answer was clearly right, when it clearly wasn’t. I had my arms crossed and looked like I was about to kill someone. Adam, on the other hand, was laughing so hard he was about to fall off the couch.

“What was the answer to that Jeopardy question?” Agent Tate asked. “Just out of curiosity. I want to see if I was right.”

Julia and Adam exchanged smirks.

“I was right,” Adam answered. “It was Portuguese.”

“So Luke, flirting isn’t an official language? Go figure.” Agent Tate retorted. He meant it as a jab on Luke’s intelligence and it was most definitely taken as such. 

Luke rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath that only Julia heard. She pinched him, but he didn’t do as much as flinch. Luke’s eyes never left the agent’s. 

Agent Tate nodded at Julia to continue.

Seeing that picture really got me wondering where Luke and Adam were. I mean Lynn and Candy had said they were supposed to help me save the world and all, but yet they weren’t here. Were they back in 2008? Do they know that I’m gone or is time frozen there?

For once in my life I honestly didn’t have a clue how to answer that question.

I heard two loud thumps outside and froze where I was. After composing myself, I put the photo back on the ground where I had found it and hurried back up the stairs and into the living room, gun at the ready.

Before I could make it into the living room, I heard two very familiar voices shouting.

“WHOA! NO NEED FOR THOSE!” Adam yelled as he threw his hands up in the air.

“WE COME IN PEACE!” Luke added on as he put his hands on the top of his head.

I rushed to the front door, in between Lynn and Candy and convinced them that these two weren’t going to hurt us in anyway. Once the door was closed and the girls had settled down, I explained that they were pointing their guns at Luke and Adam. Candy laughed it off. Lynn didn’t show her embarrassment, but I could tell it was there.

That’s when I noticed that Adam’s glasses had a huge crack on one of the lenses and Luke had a cut on his forehead.

I pointed to Luke’s forehead. “What happened?”

Luke looked up, as if he could see the cut on his own forehead. “We landed on top of one of those dang piles outside! Is it bleeding?” I nodded and Luke sat down on the floor, took off his jacket and used the sleeve to soak up the blood.

I sat down next to him. Adam turned to me and threw his hands up in frustration. “Julia, what in the world is going on? None of this makes sense! Where are we? Why does the street looked all abandoned and what not?”

“Adam. You’re in my house.” I said as bluntly as I could. I gave Adam a few seconds to look around the room so that he could realize I was right.

“How? What? Why? Did we just—”

“Lynn? Candy? Why don’t you handle this one?”

Lynn nodded and started explaining to Adam what I had already heard. I walked over to the broken window and took a peek outside. Everything looked so…different. The view was almost unrecognizable…but at the same time it was the same. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s the best way to describe it.

“So this is weird.”

I looked to my right and saw Luke standing beside me. He had put his jacket back on. The blood was staining the left sleeve.

“Yeah. How do you think we get home?”

“Technically, you’re already there.”

“Ha. Ha.” I rolled my eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“Like I know! Why don’t you ask your new friends over there?”

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t you want to figure out what’s going on? Shouldn’t you be over there with Adam?”

Luke shrugged. “He’ll give me the time-traveling for dummies version later.”

I turned and gave him a confused look. We hadn’t said the phrase time-traveling…and Luke isn’t exactly the smartest person ever… “You know we time-traveled?”

“Duh. How else do you explain what’s going on?”

I shrugged. Honestly, time travel had not been my first explanation. Sometimes that boy has strokes of genius. This…was one of them.

“Oh, I almost forgot! Did you have a good birthday?”

“Yeah, I did.” That was honestly the last thing on my mind right now. It seemed so far away. Technically, it was 100 years ago.

“That’s good. Are you going to the football game tomorrow?”

“To see you sit on the bench?” I couldn’t help but smile. Since we were only freshman, Luke didn’t get much credit on the football team. Normally freshman didn’t make varsity, but Luke did. Normally that would mean playing a lot because you’re God’s gift to football, but not for Luke. He hasn’t stepped on the field during a game all season—4 games so far.

“Ha. Ha. You’re hilarious.” Luke glanced over at me. “So you’re not coming?”

“Oh, I’m coming. I never miss a game.”

“But you’re not coming for your best friend?” He gave me the puppy face, which he knew wouldn’t work.

“Of course not! I’m coming so that afterwards you can sneak us into your uncle’s pizza place and get us dessert pizzas.” I elbowed him playfully.

Adam, Lynn and Candy were finished talking by this time and they told us to come over to where they were standing. Adam looked flustered. I could tell by the look on his face that he had a million questions at the tip of his tongue, only needing someone to address him to open the floodgates and have them spilling out.

“The first place is located further down the street,” Lynn informed all of us. “We need to make it down there quietly and quickly. If anyone sees us down here, which might be possible, we’re dead.”

“How do you know where is it?” Adam asked her.

“All the Warpers can see the piece if they see it,” Lynn pointed between herself and Candy, “which we have. But we can’t touch it. Only you guys can. Since you’re three of the four.”

Adam nodded, but didn’t looked convinced that we were the ones who were supposed to save the world and all that. Honestly, at this point…neither was I.

“I think there’s more guns upstairs. I’ll go get them!” Candy said excitedly. I don’t know where she gets her energy from, but right now it was kind of annoying.

“How are you going to get up there? The stairs look like they’re going to fall apart!” I called out after her as she ran over to the stairs.

“I’ll manage!”

Julia turned to her friends. “She never did tell us how she got up those stairs. I still can’t figure out how she did it.”

That’s what’s blowing your mind? Not the time traveling thing? THAT’S what blows your mind? The broken stairs?” Agent Tate looked pretty mind blown himself, in Julia’s opinion. He probably wasn’t willing to believe that these meddling  kids were telling the truth. He was probably just punching the time clock so that he could paid. Life as an FBI agent was time consuming and it didn’t pay that well, Julia knew at least that much from TV shows. He probably didn’t want to wrap his mind around the fact that the four of them actually time-traveled one hundred years into the future. 

They’re obviously hiding something huge, Agent Tate thought to himself. Or they wouldn’t be creating such a ridiculously elaborate story.

“You obviously didn’t see those stairs. Even a mouse could have collapsed those things.”

“Time-traveling doesn’t blow your mind?”

“Well it doesn’t now,” Julia retorted, rolling her eyes. “You get used to it.”

Agent Tate just shook his head. He still couldn’t wrap his mind around the concept of time travel yet. This story seemed to be getting more ridiculous by the second.

“Now Adam,” Lynn said, “you’ll be with me and Candy. We’ll go first and scope out the area first. We’ll then wait at the location for Julia and Luke to catch up.” Lynn turned to face me. “Stay at a safe distance behind us just in case. If something happens to us, we’ll make sure that Adam comes to find you so you three can get out of here. We can’t have all of us getting caught—especially not you three. Candy and I can handle ourselves here if we get caught. You three can’t. Sound good to everyone?”

Lynn looked around for an approving nod from us three.

“Got ‘em!” Candy came back into the room and handed the two futuristic-looking guns to Adam and Luke.

“What are these?” Adam asked while inspecting it. Luke was already pretending to shoot bad guys with it.

“These are RZ-570s. Invented by rebels about a decade ago so that they could use guns without having the government trace their whereabouts. Most were confiscated but we managed to find a few that weren’t. They are the most powerful guns you’ll probably ever hold, so be careful.” Candy explained, intending for Luke to hear, which he didn’t. He was too busy twirling it around in his hands.

“It’ll only take one shot to kill somebody no matter where you hit them, so be careful with who you aim at.” Lynn said cautiously. “If you have horrible aim, we might want to switch.”

“I’m the champ at darts. My aim is the best!” Luke said while pretending to shoot the invisible bad guys. “Adam sucks though, might want to trade out for a smaller gun little man!” Adam’s face twisted with disgust, but he adamantly refused to exchange guns, claiming he could handle it.

As planned, Lynn, Candy and Adam went first. Luke and I waited ten minutes and then followed behind them. We decided walking on the other side of the street would be a good idea. I was ahead of Luke by about two paces. Every minute or so, I looked back to see if he was still there—just in case. About twenty minutes into the trip, I looked back (as I had been doing the entire time) to find him gone.

I ventured a little bit out into the street to get a better view and saw Luke standing far away down the street staring into one of the windows of a shop. Funny thing about 3rd Avenue, the beginning and the end were full of apartments for upper middle class people and in the middle there were some shops and cafes and what not.

I caught up to Luke and stood behind him, quickly checking over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching us. Luckily I didn’t see anyone.

“Luke! What are you doing?” He didn’t respond. I cupped my hands to look into the shop window to see what looked like a restaurant. At first, I didn’t connect the dots, but then it all clicked. Luke’s uncle’s pizza place was on 3rd Avenue. Right where we were standing, to be exact.

I took a step back from the window and looked at Luke. He still looked in shock. I fumbled around with what to say for a while, but he broke the silence first.

“What happened? I can’t believe it’s destroyed! Who would do something like this?”

“This all has to do with that rebellion Lynn and Candy were talking about.” I mumbled—mostly to myself. “I’m sure it just fell victim like the other buildings on this street have.”

“Then why half of the things in there look burnt?”

“I…I…don’t know.”

Luke peered into the window one more time. He then turned around, facing the street and checked if anyone was watching us. He tried the doorknob, but seeing that the door was locked, he took a few steps backwards and kicked the door down.

“Luke!” I whispered as loud as I could. “What are you doing?”

“Sshhh! Get in here!”

I walked in and continued to scold him. “You don’t know what you’re going to find in here! We need to be following the others!”

Luke wasn’t paying any attention to me. He was turning over tables, moving chairs, as if he was looking for something important. So I fit my gun into one of my belt loops and started doing the same. There was nothing to find here, from what I saw. There were burnt menus, broken tables and chairs, and the occasional half-burnt dollar bill.

“Hey Jules, come over here.” Luke whispered. He was holding up a table over in the corner by the window. I walked over there to see a table with a bunch of scratch marks on the bottom. “Know what this is?”

“Is…that…our table?” I couldn’t help but get excited.

“What’s so important about a table?” Agent Tate asked.

“In my uncle’s pizza’s place we had our own table, in the corner by the window. In all the years of us going there, we’ve never sat anywhere else. Since the first time going there, Jules and I have scratched a tally mark under the table, to count how many times we’ve been there.” Luke replied with a smile on his face, proud to have such a long tradition with his girl. “Last time I checked it was somewhere around 380.” 

Julia looked down at her hands, the edges of her lips curling up into a smile, but said nothing. They still had a lot to talk about, but she couldn’t help but smile at the fond memory. She cleared her throat and continued with her story.

“I believe so! Look how many tally marks we’ve got!” Luke attempted to count all of them. Somewhere around 60 he stopped. “What the…”

Julia turned to Luke. “What did you see? You never did tell me.”

It was Luke that looked down at his hands this time. “I don’t know,” he mumbled. “It was four years ago.”

Agent Tate rolled his eyes. “Just keep going.”

Julia completely ignored Agent Tate, eyes widening with realization. “You remember! I can see it on your face. What did you see?”

“It was just a heart with some initials in it,” he mumbled again.

“Then why not tell me? You always point those out to make fun of them.” Luke couldn’t not tell her, for he knew that she would find out eventually. Keeping secrets from her was an unfortunate weakness of his.

“Okay…it had L and J in the heart.”

Rachel and Adam were paying full attention. Wide eyes and curious expressions. Rachel placed a hand over her mouth to stop herself from saying anything. Luke didn’t want them to see the shame on his face, but they knew him to well.

“Why didn’t you just tell me?” Julia asked, this time her voice was much quieter. Luke knew she was trying to make their conversation seem more private, despite the fact that they had three people watching intently.

“I…I didn’t want to believe it back then. You were fifteen and I was fourteen. Give me a break!”

“You kept that a secret?” Julia let out a little laugh. “You could have just told me you know. I wouldn’t have cared. It’s not like it would have affected anything.”

“That’s what I was afraid of…”

“Luke? You seriously thought—”

“After I started liking you, yes I was afraid of that!” Luke blurted out. He took a deep breath to calm himself down and continued. “I liked you for a long time before I got the courage to tell you. I felt like if I told you about that you would think that I was only asking you out because of that. And Lynn and Candy always talked about how if we found out things about our future we could screw it up…and I flipped.”

Julia looked as if her heart was broken. Luke had had this moral dilemma over that table all these years and she had never known. But if he was so torn up about something as simple as seeing their initials carved under a table 100 years in the future, how was he going to handle what was coming next? She looked at him, trying to catch his gaze, but he wouldn’t look up from his hands. It’s probably better this way, Julia thought to herself. Less pain.

After an awkward moment of silence, Agent Tate butted in. “Let’s just continue.”

Julia took a deep breath, wiped a tear from her cheek and faced Agent Tate. “Where were we?”

Oh right. The table.

“Nothing. I don’t see anything.” Luke put the table back the way it was and walked away. I figured whatever he saw wasn’t that important, so I didn’t look for myself. Apparently it was important to Luke, as we all now know.

We finished looking through what used to be the dining room and moved back into what used to be the kitchen.

“What happened here? It looked like a bomb went off.” Luke said as he walked through the kitchen. There were so many things that were melted to the floor, and the walls, and the ceiling.

“I think that’s exactly what happened.”

And right when I said that something fell from the ceiling and landed right in front of me. I jumped and was about to scream but Luke ran over and put his hand on my mouth.

“We’re not supposed to be here, remember?” After a few seconds, Luke pulled his hand off and kept going. “Hey, look over here. The wall’s black over here.” Luke walked through a doorway and into a second room. “I don’t remember there being a room back here.” He kept talking, but I couldn’t hear him.

I followed him into the room and was horrified with what I saw. There’s no good way to describe what I saw, but I guess I’ve got to try, for the sake of the story.

All of the walls were black except for splatters of dark red. You could tell it had been a long time since anybody had been in here since there were bones all over the place. Human bones. Skeletons. It was possibly the most horrific sight I’d ever seen at this point. There had to be at least ten of them—dead people that is. Luke was standing over in the corner. He looked around in shock. I couldn’t even move. I felt like I was walking into a mass grave.

“You were right. A bomb definitely went off here.” Luke bent down to pick up what looked like what was left of the bomb. He picked it up slowly, inspected it, and then dropped it. “There’s got to be like ten people in here.”

“Let’s get out of here Luke. This room is creeping me out.” As I started walking back out of the room, I thought about Adam and how we left him with Lynn and Candy, and how were supposed to be following them. “Oh crap!” I hurried towards the door, pulling my gun out my pocket.

“Jules! Wait!” Luke ran after me. “What’s going on?” I had gotten to the door and waited a second for Luke to catch up.

“We left Adam, Lynn and Candy!” Luke and I shared a look that said: Oh crap! We’re screwed!

“How are we going to find them?”

“I guess we just go in the direction we were going in, and hope we find them.”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll lead.” Luke pushed past me, with his gun at the ready. I just shrugged and followed. There was no point in trying to take the lead now. Neither of us really knew where they were. All we had was a simple direction.

In a few minutes we caught back up to where I was when I had realized I had lost Luke. We continued along 3rd Avenue for a few more minutes when I heard a loud bang to my right. I immediately turned and pointed my gun out in that direction. I just had the regular pistol, so my gun was like a toothpick compared to Luke’s RZ-570, but I figured whoever—or whatever—it was didn’t like getting shot by any kind of bullet.

After a long silence, we heard it again, but this one sounded closer.

“WHO’S THERE?” Luke yelled out. I immediately punched him in the arm.

“What are you doing?” I scolded him about as loud as my whisper would allow me. “We’re not supposed to be here, remember?”

Mocking Luke is a specialty of mine.

He rolled his eyes at that, like usual. “Well whoever it is obviously spotted us.” Luke then started moving out into the street, still with his gun in front of him. I hesitated before following him.

He’s such an idiot! We’re gonna get killed doing this—I just know it! We’re done for. Doomed. End of story. This is it—I’m going to die.

“Luke…this is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done!” I whispered-yelled as I could once I caught up to Luke.

“Oh shut up Jules. I’ve got this new fancy gun thingy. Nothing can hurt us.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that dearie. That gun won’t be able to protect you from everything.” Came a voice with a British accent off to our left.

Luke and I turned to see where the voice came from only to see a woman standing at the door of one of the shops we had just passed. She was of average height, had curly, brown hair so dark it was almost black, with blue eyes. Not just any blue eyes—blue eyes that were like a stormy sea. She slowly started to walk towards us. She didn’t have any weapons, but her stare was cold enough to kill someone. Luke and I automatically pointed our guns in her direction.

“Oh, don’t you two just look adorable holding up your guns, thinking you can hurt me with those.” She let out a creepy laugh. “You can’t kill me now! We’ve barely gotten to know each other! At least let me buy you a cappuccino or something.”

When we didn’t lower our guns, or answer her, she continued.

“Not a cappuccino person? Hmm… what about a cup of tea?” After another few seconds of silence she kept going. “Fine then. You two obviously need to lighten up. Alcohol will do the trick—oh but you’re too young for that! Silly me!” She laughed at her stupid joke. Today, I would compare her to Mother Gothel from Tangled. “At least let me introduce myself.”

“Go ahead.” I tried to sound as tough as I could, but she probably saw right through that.

“My name is Maddie. It’s a pleasure to see you again darling. I’ve been waiting for this day for …hmm…fifteen years now?”

“You know who we are?” Luke asked her as he lowered his gun—but I hadn’t noticed that quite yet.

“Oh of course I do! You’re Luke Madden, and this beauty here is my niece Julia Rose Holbrook.” She was standing at an arm’s length now. My wimpy pistol was only inches from her stomach. All I had to do was pull the trigger and she would be gone.

Thinking back to that moment, I wish I had at least tried to pull the trigger. It would have made me feel better in the future.

“I don’t have an aunt.” I retorted as I pushed my gun right up against her stomach.

“Oh dear! You don’t remember me, do you?” She reached out to stroke my hair, but I slapped her hand away. “I’m your father’s older sister. I was there the day you were born. I held you and told your mother how beautiful you were. I actually babysat you once before I went back to England. I used to get your family’s Christmas card. You should ask your dear mother to add me back on the list, while we’re on that topic.”

“You’re making this up! I would have heard about you—or seen you at the family reunions!” At the mention of family reunions, Maddie shuddered, as if I had just offended her in some weird way.

“My father disowned me. He did not…approve of me. Never has. He just loves his son—the Red Sox player. That’s probably why you don’t hear of me—I’m not accepted in that dysfunctional family.”

“What’s your business with me then?”

Her face lit up when I asked that question. “Oh that’s the fun part darling! Our fates are intertwined—on a crash course, per say.” She walked slowly around me, twirling her finger in the ponytail. “I figured our paths should cross before all the fighting begins.”

“Fighting?” Luke interrupted.

“You’re the bad guy.” I murmured. Lynn and Candy mentioned some bad guy coming along and Luke, Adam and I having to defeat them.

“Bingo!” Maddie walked past me, over to a pile of bricks that were lying in the middle of the street. “And just so you know, the one piece of the power source that I need will be mine. Don’t you forget that either! But by all means, please don’t give up. I love a little competition!” She flashed a quick smile and kept walking down the street. “See you later my darlings! And I wish you all the luck the world has to offer!”

And just like that she was gone—disappeared into thin air.

“She just disappeared into thin air? I doubt it.” Agent Tate asked in disbelief.

“It’s true.” Julia said with a straight face as she crossed her arms in defiance.

“How did she do that then? Magic?” He asked jokingly

“Actually, yes she did.”

Agent Tate raised an eyebrow. “Magic doesn’t exist.”

“Time travel doesn’t exist either…but we proved that wrong. Didn’t we?” A smirk grew on her face.

Agent Tate stared back, taken aback at her question. She had meant it as rhetorical, but he didn’t feel it to be that way. To him, it was obvious. Time travel and magic do not exist. End of story. He glanced at his watch. He was to leave at five. It was ten in the morning. Seven more hours to go… 

Luke and I just kind of stood there for a second.

“What a weird family you’ve got there Julia.” Luke patted me on the shoulder and moved back off the street and onto the sidewalk.

“Like your family’s much better!” I followed. “You’ve got the deranged aunt who’s walking across the country.”

“And you have a crazy aunt with a British accent, and honestly I think that’s pretty creepy compared to—“

All of the sudden I got the worst headache—almost like a migraine. Every step I took hurt so I stopped. The ground underneath my feet started spinning and before I knew it, I was on the ground.

I closed my eyes for a second and opened them up to see a totally different place. I wasn’t in futuristic Boston anymore.

I was in a bedroom of what looked like a boy who—based off what was in his room—was probably a little bit younger than me. There were sports posters on the wall, along with the occasional photo standing in a frame. Against one of the walls was the bed, which I was standing over. The boy was sleeping. He had brown hair and blue eyes. Honestly, he looked like the boy version at me when I was nine.

I took a few seconds to look around the room. There was a glass of water on the nightstand, along with a copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (what a good choice—I might add), and a pair of reading glasses. There was a desk in the far corner that had huge, messy pile of books on it. The window was opposite of the desk, and right when I looked at it, it flew open, letting in all the bitter cold winter air.

In through the window came a person with a creepy cloak on. The kind of cloak you see the Grim Reaper wear in movies. It (as far as I know it was the Grim Reaper) walked right past me without even a glance.

Was I even visible? Was I a ghost here? Who is that? Whoever it was, it walked straight over to the nightstand with the glass of water on it, put its hand over it and turned back toward the windows and disappeared. The water glowed purple for a brief second, changing back so far I questioned if it had even changed colors in the first place. Right before the thing left, it took a quick glance right in my direction, and it was then when I realized it was Maddie.

I immediately went over to the window and tried to shut it after Maddie disappeared, but my hands went through it, confirming my theory that I was a ghost here.

Right as I did that, the boy woke up coughing. I could barely see him, but he reached for the glass of water and drank some. I just stood there in shock with the realization that Maddie had done something to his drink. The boy’s coughing turned into choking when a woman ran into the room. I couldn’t see her face, but she struck me as familiar. Before I could figure out whether or not he had died, I came back to reality.

“JULES!” Luke was violently shaking me. “JULES!”

“Luke, you’re making it worse! Stop!” I put my hand on my forehead. I felt like I had just been run over by a truck, repeatedly. What just happened?

“Oh sorry.” Luke let go of me and helped me up. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah I’m fine. Just my head hurts.”

“Are you sure? You just completely passed out!”

“I…I…I don’t know what just happened. My head started hurting and then all the sudden I’m in another place.”

“What? How hard did you hit your head when you passed out?” Luke put the back of his hand on my forehead like he was taking my temperature. I swatted it away.

“No, Luke. I was there, but nobody could see me. I was like a ghost. And…and…Maddie was there…and she killed that innocent boy.”

“What?” His face scrunched up in confusion. “You’re not making any sense.”

I shook the crazy thought out of my head. “We need to find Lynn and Candy. I think they’ll know what’s going on.”

Luke sighed and put a hand on my shoulder. I could see the concern in his eyes. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah Luke. Let’s just find the others.” I started walking, even with my head still throbbing. What was I supposed to do? We had to find them. I wanted to go home now.

After walking for about half an hour, the pain finally stopped. That’s when I saw Candy peeking out of a window of one of the houses across the street. Luke and I knew that crossing the street was probably a bad idea since other streets were in view, which meant other people would be able to see us. The only way we could think of doing without being completely obvious was to go from one pile of bricks to another across the street.

I set out first, pistol still out in front. I went to the first pile, checked to see if anyone was walking by, and then proceeded to the second. Once I got to the other side, I waited underneath the staircase leading up to the front door while Luke was finishing up. I counted to three and then we both ran up to the front door and knocked like maniacs.

We don’t exactly make the best decisions sometimes. You might as well know sooner rather than later.

Candy opened the door and we almost fell in.

“Nice to see you guys finally caught up! What took you so long?” Candy asked.

“We uh…got caught up a ways back.” Luke said as he walked in and took a seat on the slightly torn-up couch in the corner. “Where are Adam and that other chick?”

Lynn,” Candy rolled her eyes. “And they went searching for the piece.”

“So it is here?” I almost forgot why we were even here in the first place.

“Well, I thought so, but they went looking for it…and I haven’t seen them since.”

“How big can this house possibly be?” I looked around to see a pretty small house. There was a staircase going up to a second story, but if it was anything like the other houses on the street: it was very small.

“Not sure. But now that you’re here, let’s go look. I’ll look in the kitchen, you two go upstairs.” Without questioning her, Luke and I immediately started walking around the house, with our guns in our hands—just in case. Luke went up the stairs first, with his fancy futuristic gun ready to shoot any unsuspecting person.

Once upstairs, we found a small hallway with three doors: one on the right, left, and at the end of the hall. I opened the door on the left to see a little girl’s bedroom. Lynn had informed us back at my house that the piece would be glowing, so since I saw nothing, I closed the door. Luke had just closed the door to the room on the right.

“Anything?” I asked him.

“Nope, just a bedroom. What about you?”

“Same.”

“Did you check that one?”

“Nope.” I walked over to that door and slowly turned the knob. I looked down at my feet to see a faint glow coming from underneath the door. “Luke…look…” I pointed down to my feet and smiled at him. “This is it!”

“Could just be a light, Jules.”

I rolled my eyes. “Just trying to be optimistic.”

I opened the door to see a set of stairs going upwards to the attic. Luke and I walked up very slowly.

At the top was a bunch of old photo albums and other crap. I noticed that there was a faint blue glow that was sticking to the floor.

I pointed to the floor. “Told ya.”

He rolled his eyes. “Let’s split up.”

So Luke and I split up to try to find the source. I started moving things around to find the dang piece. While moving one of the boxes off the floor, the bottom of the box fell out and all of its contents spewed out into the floor.

I said a word or two that probably would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap by my grandma and put down the box and started picking the things up.

I noticed a bunch of photographs of the same people. Duh Julia. This is somebody’s house: of course all the photos are going to have the same people in them. But then I came across a wedding photo that struck me as odd. It had four different people in it: the bride, two guys in tuxedos (I’m assuming one was the groom) and another girl in a red bridesmaids dress.

Since I’m a girl, the natural instinct is to think aww, how cute, but then I looked closer and saw the faces. They all looked familiar…and then I realized who the people were. It was me in the wedding dress, Luke and Adam in the tuxedos and a girl from our school named Rachel in the red dress. Does this mean I’m going to marry either Adam or Luke? And what is she doing there? We’ve maybe spoken two words to each other since 6th grade!

I immediately put the contents back into the box and shoved it on a pile of boxes as far away as possible. That picture was too weird. The last thing I wanted to think about was a wedding. Especially if I was marrying either Adam or Luke.

“No offense,” Julia muttered. She stole a quick glance over at Luke before speaking up, not letting him add anything to the conversation.

No matter how many boxes I moved around, I couldn’t find this dang piece—or even where the blue glow was coming from.

Luke and I were probably searching for ten minutes before Luke moved one of the boxes and the entire room illuminated with the blue glow. He reached down and grabbed the piece. It was about three or four inches on all sides.

“Is this what we’ve been looking for the whole time?” Luke held it up and looked at it. As he was holding it, the blue glow dimmed, making it easier to look at. “It’s really small! The dang thing could have been anywhere!”

“But it was in somebody’s attic…”

Luke’s face scrunched up. “Don’t make it all creepy.”

“Fine then scared-y-cat, let’s go downstairs and get out of here.” I took the piece from him while I left the attic. With the glowing square in one hand and the pistol in the other, Luke and I went back down to the ground floor of the house to see Adam, Candy and Lynn just sitting there, chatting away. Lynn looked a little bit aggravated, probably from Adam asking too many questions.

“Look what we found!” I sang lightly as I waved the piece around.

“Oh goody!” Candy jumped up and grabbed the piece. She and Lynn examined it, admiring how it looked.

“This is amazing Julia! I can’t believe you actually found it!” Lynn ran over and gave me a hug—something I found impossible based off her standoff attitude she’s been giving me the entire time.

“Whoa there! Break it up!” Luke put a hand right in between my hug with Lynn. “How do we use that thing to get home?”

“Oh simple! All of you just need to close your eyes and put a hand on it…” She paused so that all but Candy would all do it. “Now think of where you were before you came here…”

I was thinking about home. I couldn’t wait to be in my warm bed. I felt like I’d earned it.

“Now Luke…let go of the CZ-570…”

“Dang it…” You could hear the gun drop probably a mile away.

“Now keep thinking of that place…and count to three…and…”

“One…two…three…” Luke, Adam and I said out loud together.

“Okay now what?” I said.

When I didn’t hear anybody answer, I opened my eyes to see that I was back in my room on my bed. The book that Uncle Dustin had gotten me was sitting there on my bed, still open to the exact page that had started this whole thing. I closed the book, put it up on one of the shelves, when the piece fell out of my pocket. I had almost forgotten about it! How it got in my pocket, I’ll never know—but that’s not important. I figured that this piece was probably something I needed to hide. The perfect place came right to my mind…

I hid the piece in that oh so perfect place, and no I’m not going to tell you where that is. I turned around to see that the clock read 11:47 PM. It was like no time had passed at all.

After crossing a few things off of my pre-bedtime routine, I went downstairs to retrieve my cell phone that I had left on the couch in the living room. I picked it up and saw that I had seventeen missed calls. They were all from Luke and Adam.

Before I could call either one of them back, the doorbell rang.

The second I opened the door, I was pushed aside as Luke and Adam hurried in. I shut the door slowly and walked over to the living room, where Adam and Luke were standing now.

“JULIA! Oh good! You’re okay!” Adam looked like he was out of breath—which was weird since he lived right across the road.

“What’s going on?” All three of us sat down on the couch. “Why did y’all show up? It’s past midnight!”

“We had to make sure you were back! You didn’t answer your phone, so we came over as soon as we could!” Luke looked as if he had just had a panic attack—which never happened: another weird thing.

“I left my phone on the couch. I literally just saw all the missed calls. Y’all need to calm down.” I took a deep breath to calm down. “Do y’all need a drink? You look like you just ran a marathon!”

“Yes…please.” Adam said in between taking huge breaths. I got up to go get all three of us a glass of water and came back to the couch.

“So what now?” I asked.

Adam drank every last drop of water, placed the glass down on the coffee table and turned to me. “We just time travelled. This is big stuff.”

“Dude! We’re going to be famous!” Luke exclaimed excitedly.

“Ssh!” I turned around just to make sure my parents weren’t standing there. “Luke, we can’t tell anybody!”

“Why not?”

“You really are dumb.” Adam murmured.

“I heard that you little punk.” Luke pushed Adam.

“STOP IT!” I whisper-yelled. Yes, that is a thing. “You two fight enough as it is.” I put my glass down onto the coffee table. “We need to be together on this.”

“She’s got a point Luke. We can’t tell anybody. If anybody knows, we could never accomplish the mission.” Adam shoved Luke back. “Did you put the piece in a good hiding place, Julia?”

“Yeah. And don’t even think of asking where I hid it. The less people that know the better.”

“So we’re really doing this?” Luke normally wasn’t up for huge commitments. His longest relationship at this point was three months long.

“Yeah. It looks like we are.” After that there was a few moments of silence.

“It’s not going to be easy, is it?”

“Are you chickening out?” Adam joked.

“I don’t chicken out, Adam. This is Luke Madden you’re talking about.”

“Oh I know exactly who I’m talking about.” Adam joked. I put my hand over my mouth to hide my laughter. Luke glared at us, but said nothing.

“It’s either all of us, or none of us. What do you say? Wanna save the universe before the aunt, I never knew I had, destroys it?” I picked up my glass off of the coffee table and offered it up as if to toast something.

Adam grabbed his glass and did the same. We both looked at Luke, waiting on him to pick his up.

“I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?”

“Probably,” I smiled.

“Fine,” Luke smiled at me as he raised his glass to complete the toast.


So that’s chapter 2! Please let me know what you think in the comments. Good, bad, hate, love, etc. I wanna hear it all! I’ll try to have chapter 3 up as soon as I can! Have a wonderful day! 🙂

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!

Hey guys! So I know I haven’t posted in over a year…but I’m coming back for real this time. I’ve got so many cool ideas and I’ve got some more time to actually do this! 

So here’s a little heads up about this post. I’ve started to write a story. I don’t care if it ever gets past this blog, but I want to finish it. This is the prologue and the first chapter will be up soon, with chapter 2 on the way (whenever I finish editing it). If you don’t read it, fine. If you read it and hate it, fine. If you read it and love it, fine. I’m just putting it out there for those of you who like reading new stories. 

Coming up in weeks to come is a new thing I’ve decided to do. It’s going to be looking through Disney movies and giving you the rundown…doing all the things you see other people do, but I’m throwing my 2 cents into the ring because I consider myself and Disney fanatic. Ranking songs, talking about plot (and pointing out plot holes), talking about the sequels, all kinds of stuff. So…for you fellow Disney fans, that’s coming! I hope you guys enjoy! 

Here’s the prologue to my story that I’m writing…the name is still in the works, but I’ll let you know when I decide I’ll let you know. Right now, it’ll be under the category of “Story.”

Thanks in advance to those who read this! It means a lot! And the real revival of “The City Never Sleeps at Night” is coming! I mean it this time!


 

Prologue

“Julia! Wait!” Evan yelled at Julia.

“Go away Evan!” Julia yelled back at Evan through her tears. She couldn’t believe that she had put up with him and his stupid antics for this long. He had been trying to break her for the entire semester.

And now he had finally done that. The tears were coming faster now.

Evan ran the next few steps and caught Julia by the arm.

“Talk to me Jules!”

“Don’t call me that!” She wiggled her arm out of his hold and kept walking. “Only Rachel and Luke can call me that!”

At the mention of his self-proclaimed nemesis, Evan snapped. “Don’t you dare walk away from me like that!” He grabbed her arm as she walked away, twirling her around and pulled her in close. So close that their faces were almost touching. “Do you think your ‘friends’ would want to know your dirty little secret?”

Julia’s eyes went wide with fear. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“You know me Julia,” Evan muttered. “I never back down from a dare.”

“Let go of my arm!” She struggled against his grasp, wanting to get a million miles away from Evan right now. She knew running from her problems never worked, but it sure would have made her feel better at the current moment.

“Not until you do as I say.”

It took all her willpower not to slap him with her free hand.

“You will not get me to do anything.” Julia could feel her anger radiating off of her. “Who do you think I am? I’ve had enough of this!”

“Have you?”

“I’m tired of the blackmail Evan! I can’t do this! It’s hurting more people than just me! I want my life back!”

“Should have thought about that a long time ago!”

Julia narrowed her eyes at him. “I never did anything wrong.”

“Do you think a judge will believe that load of crap?” He dared to laugh in her face. “’Cause I seriously doubt it.”

“LET ME GO!” She stared into his brown eyes, noticing every orange speck. Each speck glowed with anger. “Or I’ll scream rape.”

His eyes narrowed. The fire of hatred in his eyes erupted. “You wouldn’t dare,” he muttered under his breath.

“We’re in the middle of a college campus…it’d be real easy for somebody to call campus police.” A smile danced on her face for a brief second. “You know me, Evan. I never back down from a dare.”

He glared at her, his tone of voice reaching a new level of darkness. “You scream, I call police.”

“You call police, I scream. And if that happens, you’ll go to jail.”

“And you won’t be far behind.” For a brief moment, she believed him, but she didn’t dare say anything or change her facial expression. She would rather get punched in the face repeatedly than make him think he had the upper hand in their conversation. “Think about that before you scream,” he taunted.

“You have no proof.” She got out of Evan’s hold and took off running down the sidewalk. She had to get away. Luckily, he didn’t follow her.

“You sure about that Holbrook?” He called out after her. She shuttered at the thought that he might actually have evidence. What seemed as a noble mission at first now seemed to become her biggest regret.

You didn’t do anything wrong, she kept telling herself. He doesn’t have evidence. There’s nothing wrong with what you chose. 


 

Two dribbles. Line up the shot. Release.

Air ball. Julia’s shoulders slumped. A frustrated look now showing on her face.

That was the ninth one missed in a row. Julia had a game in two days and she couldn’t make her free throws anymore. Coach is gonna be ticked, she thought to herself.

Julia was currently standing on the free throw line on the court of the University of Virginia’s basketball arena. The head coach of the women’s team had given all of the girls keys that gave them access to the court since the dorms didn’t have any decent courts nearby. With all the stuff that had been going on to her this semester, the basketball arena had become Julia’s sanctuary.

And everybody else thought their first semester of college was tough. Ha! They can all suck it.

After her confrontation with Evan an hour earlier, her game was off and it worried her. She was determined to stay here until she made at least one free throw.

Two dribbles. Line up the shot. Release.

Air ball—again.

“Julia Holbrook has been zero for ten today. Quite the disappointing performance from Virginia’s best female player, if you ask me.”

Julia knew that voice. But it couldn’t be. She jumped with joy on the inside.

She turned around to see none other than Luke Madden standing there in a red London 2012 Olympics t-shirt with a black  jacket and faded blue jeans. He was pretending to hold a microphone as if he was the announcer analyzing her game—something he frequently did when they would play one-on-one back in high school. He had short blonde hair with hypnotizing green eyes and towered over her at six-foot one. Her heart did a little dance upon seeing him.

“Luke?” She couldn’t contain her excitement any longer. She dropped the basketball and ran into his arms. He picked her up and spun her around in the air, like one sees in the romantic movies.

“Don’t act too excited to see me!” He joked as he set her back on the ground. She noticed how his arms held her only inches from him, but she didn’t care. She loved it this way. It was things like this that she had missed.

“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in England? Don’t you have finals or something?”

“Oh, who needs school?” He smirked at her. Luke had one of those smiles that could melt even the coldest of hearts. “The real question is what’s going on to make you miss your free throws?”

Julia lowered her gaze from his eyes to the Olympic rings on his t-shirt. “What do you mean?”

“You only miss free throws when something’s bothering you.” He used a finger to gently push her chin up so that she would have no choice but to meet his eyes. “So what’s up with my favorite girl?”

She lowered her eyes to his chest out of shame. “I just needed to clear my head. I figured this would be the best place to do so.”

“It is. I mean, come on! This is an awesome basketball arena!” He let go of Julia and walked over to the basketball rack and picked up a ball. “But just because you play college ball, doesn’t mean you’re better than me.”

Julia put her hands on her hips. “I’ve always been better than you.”

“I got offered multiple scholarships too you know.”

“It’s not my fault that you went to Oxford instead!”

He started dribbling the ball. “The fault would belong to my crazy parents.”

“But your brother is an Olympic gold medalist, Luke! I’m sure that was worth it.” She walked over toward him, still keeping a sizable distance between them. “You’re gonna have to tell me all about that, by the way.”

“Oh yeah, I will.” He passed the ball to Julia. “After you tell me why you can’t make a single free throw.”

She dribbled the ball in place, not making eye contact with him. She looked up for just a second to pass the ball back to him. “It’s something dumb. You wouldn’t care.”

“You know I care.” He passed the ball back and took a step toward her.

“I know…” Another pass.

“So?” Another pass and another step forward.

“It’s really dumb. You’re gonna hate me.” She passed it back again, but this time taking a step away from him.

“That’s not true and you know it.” He passed it to her and walked over to the bench. He patted the seat next to him, signaling her to come sit by him. She hesitated before walking over there.

After sitting down, Julia put her head in her hands. She didn’t want to look at Luke—not while telling him this. She peeked through her fingers and noticed a tiny “JRH” carved into the floor directly beneath her seat. She cringed and shook her head, trying to focus on the task at hand.

“It’s Evan.”

“Wasn’t he our quarterback in high school?” Luke knew the answer to the question. He knew all about Evan. They were once best friends, before they had that huge fight. Luke couldn’t stand how obnoxious he had become–and the fact that the two of them had been pining after Julia at the same time. The competition destroyed their friendship, but in Luke’s mind, it was for the better. The only things Luke ever heard from Evan now-a-days was him bragging about how great his life was. To say it was annoying would be an understatement in Luke’s mind.

Julia knew all of this and let out a little laugh at his sarcastically ignorant question.

“Yeah he was.”

“So what is he doing here at Virginia? He was—is—dumber than me.”

Julia shrugged. “He got a football scholarship here.”

“So what did the quarterback of the douche-ball team do or say to my favorite girl to get her to miss her free throws?” Luke put his arm around her.

“It’s a long story.”

“Oh, I don’t know if you noticed. But the stadium is empty and my watch—” He tapped the broken glass on his fancy watch that he had gotten himself back in Gettysburg, “—isn’t working, so as far as I know time has stopped.”

They both laughed. If only time could stop.

Julia couldn’t believe he still had that watch after everything that had happened. It had broken a long time ago. Little did she know, Luke kept wearing it because it reminded him of her. During his time in England, he needed every little reminder he could get.

“Come on Jules. It can’t be crazier than the stuff we did in high school.”

“If I was smart, I’d bet on that.”

“You are the smartest girl I know.” He nudged her playfully.

Julia glared at him. “You just want to win a bet, don’t you? You’re still not over the fact that you never beat me on a bet!” Julia started to laugh, but Luke cut her off.

“Not the point, Jules.” Luke rolled his eyes. “Tell me what douche-ball team captain did to my favorite girl.”

Julia looked down at her hands. “He…uh…we had a huge fight…and he…umm…might have…threatened me?”

“WHAT?” Luke’s facial expression went from playful and caring to full of rage faster than one can blink. “Did he hurt you? ‘Cause if he did I swear I’ll—”

“No Luke he didn’t.” Julia took a deep breath. “Well, not physically,” she added quietly.

“Same thing applies.” He started to stand up but Julia pulled him back down.

“I know what you’re thinking but hear me out first.” She could tell he didn’t want to talk . She knew he wanted to find Evan and pound his face in, but she had to tell him the whole story first—even if it was going to make him mad in the process.

“Okay.” He took a deep breath to calm himself down. “Why did he threaten you?”

“He found out something about me and he threatened to expose it.”

“Like what?” Luke perked up, a smile growing on his face. “He found out you actually liked the Jonas Brothers back in the day? I can understand how that can be humiliating for you.”

Julia rolled her eyes and shook her head. “No, not that.”

“Then what?” Luke put a hand on top of hers.

She gripped it tightly. “He found out the truth about us…at least I think so.”

“What do you mean, you think so?”

“He never explicitly said what it was he knew about me, but he made it pretty obvious.”

“What else could it possibly be Jules?”

“Something that happened back in Georgia after you left.” She closed her eyes. Why did you say that? He doesn’t know about that.

“I thought your life as boring and completely pointless without me there.” Julia normally would have laughed. His overconfident self really did make her feel better. Focus Julia, focus.

“One of the new kids in town disappeared back in 5th grade and I was the last to see him…”

“Oh my gosh you killed him and didn’t tell me! I knew you were a secret bad-a!” She elbowed him. “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! Tell me Jules.” She glared at him. “If it’s something that you don’t want to say, you don’t have to.”

“Of course I didn’t kill him!” She took a deep breath. “I need to get this off my chest.” She started staring at the ground–at the “JRH” to be more exact. She knew this was going to be hard to say.

“Okay, okay. In all seriousness, what happened? Did the kid die?”

“I always thought so…but now I’m not so sure.”

Luke place his hand on top of hers and gave it a light squeeze. “You can tell me, Jules. What’s rule number one?”

Julia focused her eyes on his hand and cracked a smile. “No judging.”

“Right! So you can tell me, rule number one and all that.”

Julia sighed and collected her thoughts.

She closed her eyes, the scene replaying in her mind.

“We were playing along the old creek not too far away from my house with that old, broken bridge, remember that one?” Luke nodded. They had spent a lot of time there as kids before he had moved away in 3rd grade. “Well one day we went out there and the bridge had mysteriously been fixed. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t broken anymore. He asked me if I would dare him to cross it and before I could answer he started going across.” Julia’s voice started to break. “It…it looked so safe and stable but I was ready to turn any second just in case he fell. But he never did, which surprised me more than him. He made it to the other side and turned around and cheered me on, so of course I started going.

“It was obviously safe. I looked down to watch every step I made. Once I got to the other side, I…I looked up and he was there…but someone in…in a black cape came around and grabbed him and threw him to the side. He…or…she, I still don’t know…told me to go back home and not to tell anybody what I saw. He…he…was…shaking his head at me, telling me not to go…but…but…”

Julia wiped a tear off of her cheek.

Luke squeezed her hand. “What did you do?” His voice was so soothing, something that had developed over the years. It was amazing to think that just four years ago he was self-absorbed and a egotistic ladies-man. Anyone that met him now would probably never believe the person he used to be.

Luke reached up and wiped a tear from her cheek. His touch sent chills down her spine.

“I…I ran back inside and didn’t say a word.”

“Didn’t people get suspicious?”

“No…at least I don’t think so…the memory’s a little fuzzy after that.” She took a deep breath. “They say sometimes we make ourselves forget traumatic experiences from our childhood.”

“Who says that?” Luke asked skeptically, as always.

Julia shrugged. “I learned it in psychology class a month ago.”

The pair sat there in silence for a solid minute before anything else was said.

“Luke,” Julia was trembling with fear now. She felt exposed. Vulnerable. She hated this feeling. “I was a scared, little kid. I didn’t know what to do.”

“What do you think happened to him?”

“I…I don’t know. All I know…is that it’s my fault that he’s gone.”

Luke put his hand on top of hers. “You know that’s not true, Jules.”

“Of course it is!” Julia wiped away tears from her eyes before they could escape to her cheeks. “It’s all my fault he was kidnapped! I should have gotten help. I could have called the police and told them what I saw…who I saw. I could have done something…anything. I’m basically responsible for his death.”

Luke took a deep breath and moved his hand off of hers. “Why didn’t you tell the police after a while?”

“Because…because…I was afraid the person with the black cape would come after me.” Julia put her head in her hands. “I was so scared.”

Another minute of silence. Julia glanced over at Luke. “Want to know the weirdest part?” Luke nodded. “The memory seems more like a dream than anything. A nightmare, really. It just doesn’t seem real. I can’t even remember the boy’s name.”

Luke watched her as she wiped away the last of the tears. He wanted to pull her into a hug and hold her until the tears were long gone, but he refrained. He would later wonder why that was.

Luke took a deep breath. “How did Evan find out about any of this?”

“I don’t know,” Julia shook her head. “He never told me.”

“So how did he use this against you?”

Julia took a deep breath and raised her head a little, removing the muffled sound to her voice.

“He wanted me to do something for him, but wouldn’t say what until I agreed. I never did, so he continued to threaten me by saying he was going to call the police and have me arrested. He said he had enough evidence to get me convicted and sent to jail…for whatever crime he thought I had committed.”

Luke took a moment for all of this information to sink in. He cleared his throat. “What a douche,” Luke muttered under his breath.

Neither said anything for a solid five minutes.

“So let me guess, you don’t want anything to do with me now?” The tears had gotten the best of Julia again. Keeping everything bottled inside for so long was a good idea until this very moment. The floodgates had been opened and she wiped the tears off as fast as she could. “Now that I might be sent to jail for kidnapping and possibly murder…and whatever charge we’d get for the other thing–”

“No, of course not Jules!” He turned to face her and wiped a tear of her cheek with his thumb. “You were a scared, little kid. I would have done the same thing.”

“Really?”

“Yeah! Actually, I probably would have gone insane.”

Julia sniffled and a smile grew on her face. “Wait, you’re not insane now?”

Normally Luke wouldn’t laugh at a joke like that, but this time he did. He knew that if Julia was making jokes, she was feeling better.

“Why don’t we leave this place? It’s kind of creepy late at night.”

“Sure. You can spend the night in my dorm room. But you’re on the futon.”

“Why would I want to be in the same bed as you? I don’t even like you.” Luke said as he stood up. He walked over to the basketball rack. Julia followed him over there and he handed her a ball. “Now made a dang free throw so we can leave.” Julia walked over to the free throw line. She was well aware of Luke’s presence a few feet behind her.

Two dribbles. Line up the shot. Release.

It was almost as if time slowed after Julia let go of the ball. All the grief, regret, guilt and bad thoughts over the past ten years were attached to that ball. The second she let go of it, she felt immediately better.

When the ball went in, Julia jumped up for joy. She turned around to see Luke giving her a huge smile.

“It’s about time you made a free throw!” He spread his arms out wide and Julia ran into his arms and gave her a huge hug.

He pushed back just far enough to kiss her on the lips. It was a long, romantic, passionate kiss. He had waited so long to do this. He was determined to make it count.

“I lied earlier.” He confessed to her in between kisses. “I like you a lot.” They both laughed and kissed some more. Boy have I missed this, Luke thought to himself.


So there it is! Let me know what you think! I’m up for criticism. Actually, I welcome it! If you really liked it and want to get a hold of it faster, I have a separate blog up on wordpress just for this story, but I’ll be putting it up on here too. The website is: http://vanhabersham.wordpress.com/ if you want to get it there.

Thanks again guys for reading! I’ll be back and getting back on things as we go! Have a wonderful week!


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A little bird told me…