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Tree of Worlds

Caleb


Linnie and I were walking through the woods swatting away the mosquitoes and flies and kicking our feet, trying to dislodge the bugs that swirled around us. Linnie was complaining as normal; she always did, but her complaints were even worse than they had been since we had been on this outdoor adventure getaway that our parents decided to sign us up for.


“Ugh, I hate the outdoors and all these stupid bugs,” Linnie said, kicking at the bugs even more forcefully to demonstrate her point and her frustration. “I don’t understand why they wanted us to walk around our town woods because that is all we seem to be doing on this getaway program. And why do they even call it a ‘getaway’ when we aren’t even leaving town?” her voice rising as she got more upset.


“Linnie, at least try to enjoy something, look at the the pretty sunrise over there,” I said, pointing at the sun that was just visible through the dense tree trunks and bushes.


“I can’t,” she replied, “It’s too early for me to be up, it’s like, 6:00, and it’s already hot and humid and there are bugs everywhere. I could still be sleeping in my air conditioned room that has no bugs. Or if I was up, I could be watching TV. There are new episodes of my favor-.” Linnie’s voice was suddenly cut off. I continued walking a few more steps until I realized Linnie wasn’t talking anymore. I turned around. Linnie was gone.


“Linnie, where are you? Linnie?” I walked back to where she stopped talking. It looked like she had tripped on a tree root, but where did she go? I continued searching, looking behind the trees and moving aside branches and checking under bushes and shrubs. All I could see was green and brown blending together as I moved frantically about looking for any sign of Linnie. I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. It was like a shadow, but when I turned around, there was nothing there.


A gust of wind blew through the forest causing the trees to rustle and bend. I heard a crack above me and looked up. There was a tree branch falling! I moved out of the way quickly and felt the tip of the branch scratch my leg. My heart was pounding and I took a deep breath to try to calm myself down. That was weird, but I’m okay. I will do one more quick search and then I will go back to the camp and tell the leader what happened and they can find Linnie and this will all be okay. As I was looking under a fallen log, hoping that Linnie might have decided to crawl in, I heard a noise and quickly turned around again. “Linnie?” I called out, but there was no one there. The wind started to pick up and goosebumps formed on my skin. The forest suddenly seemed a lot bigger and darker than it was a few minutes ago and I suddenly wished that I was at home or even back at the camp would be better than this. “Linnie, where are you? I am not in the mood to play hide and seek”, I called out, getting more desperate. I heard a noise and turned around. It was someone laughing. I knew that laugh, it was Linnie’s laugh: a high-pitched laugh that reminded me of a goat. I let out a breath that I didn’t know that I had been holding and felt my whole body relax. I followed the sound of the voice.


“Linnie, there you are!” I said to her, slightly upset but more relieved than angry. “Where did you go?”
“”Oh hey Caleb, I thought you saw me come over here,” she said, not at all realizing how stressed I was, “I saw this tree and I wanted to look at it more because it looked pretty cool.”


I went over to her and looked at the tree more closely. The tree was the biggest tree that I had seen in the forest. It looked it was wide enough to have a car put in the middle of it and no part of the car would stick out. The color was a dark brown, but the bark seemed to have red streaks in it and it looked kind of shiny. The tree was as tall as I could see and seemed to go on forever. It went on past the tops of all of the other trees and as far as I could see. There seemed to be only one root on the tree visible through the dirt. The root was the same color as the tree and it was gnarled and twisted. It looked like a first grader’s first attempt at trying cursive.
“Wait,” I said, “Did you say that there was a hole in the tree?”


“Yeah,” she replied, “And it’s super big and mysterious. We should go into it and look around!”


“Okay,” I said, “But we should be careful. Doesn’t something about this tree seem a little off to you? It’s so different from any of the other trees and I don’t ever remember seeing it before. And I feel like I would have remembered a tree that looked like this.”


“Stop worrying so much and have a little fun. It’s not like this tree is dangerous,” she said, chuckling a little.
“Well I mean, it could always collapse,” I replied, teasing Linnie a little.


“Oh come on Caleb!” she said pulling on my arm, “Let’s go!”


As we walked around the tree, the hole came into sight. It was as big as Linnie had described it. It was shaped sort of like a semicircle, but a little more oblong. It was at least 7 feet tall and 6 feet wide.


“Ladies first,” I said, jokingly gesturing with my hands.


“Oh st-”, Linnie began to say as she climbed into the hole, but she never had a chance to finish. A flash of light lit up the forest and then Linnie was gone.


“Linnie, where are you?” I stepped into the hole in the tree and before I had a chance to say anything more, the same flash of light that I saw when Linnie disappeared, and my last thought before the light fully swallowed me up was, I knew something was off about that tree.



Linnie


“-op,” I finished. I hit the ground. “Ow!” I sat up and looked around, “Wait, where am I?” I was in the same patch of woods that I was in before the white light hit, or at least I thought so. But as I looked closer, I realized the trees were all shiny and their bark looked like it had streaks of different colors in it and it looked like it swirled around underneath the surface. I also noticed it looked like there were silver things in all of the branches of the trees that looked like security cameras.


After gawking at my surroundings, I realized that I was alone and Caleb was nowhere to be seen. I slowly stood up wincing at the pain in my leg. I rubbed my eyes and looked around again. Where was I? I must be dreaming. I must have hit my head harder than I thought. I reached out and touched the closest tree. It felt warm and felt like it was pulsing, almost like a heartbeat. Maybe the trees are alive just like people and I’m feeling the tree’s heartbeat. I shook my head. Okay, well I’m really going crazy, I need to just take a nap and when I wake up, I will be back where I left and this will just be all a dream. I sat down and leaned against the warm tree and slowly drifted off to sleep with the comforting pulsing of the tree against me lulling me to sleep.
I jolted awake and rubbed my eyes. I stretched and as I felt the tree against me, I remembered what had happened to me. Relief filled me for a second. So I wasn’t crazy! But the relief left as quickly as had come as dread quickly filled me as I realized I had no clue where I was and I was all alone and all I had with me were my shorts and tee shirt. This can’t be happening to me. Maybe I’m in an alternate universe or something and maybe the people here can help me figure out what happened. I decided to go and try to find a sign of civilization, but as I left the clearing, I stopped. My gut was telling me this area was important, so I turned back took out the red polka dotted ribbon that was in my hair and tied it around a low branch of the tree that I had landed next to, the tall tree, one that seemed to go on forever up into the sky. I felt better after doing that, so that I could always recognize that tree. I left the clearing again and I was on my way to find some people that could help me and get me out of here.

Caleb


I landed hard on the dirt and rock ground. I looked around, Where was I? I was in the woods; they actually looked like the woods that were here before that white light came. But there was a difference. The trees that before had looked bright and in full bloom now looked sickly and small. The leaves in the trees were folding in on themselves, as a way to preserve themselves. The leaves were limp and not even that green anymore. They had a brownish tint. Everything in these woods looked sick and also dead. But, then I turned around and was shocked.


There was a large tree that looked extremely out of place among all this sick and darkness. The tree looked somewhat shiny and looked by far the healthiest tree in the woods as well as the biggest. The leaves were bright green and big. The bark was dark brown and it had a reddish tint in the bark, and streaks that seemed to move around. Actually, it looked just like the tree that I had been by right before I just disappeared and appeared here. I looked down. There was a tree root that looked just like the one that was near the tree that I had disappeared into. I walked around the tree and I spotted a hole. It looked exactly the same as the other hole that I disappeared into. I continued walking around. I wanted to see if I could find some people that knew what was happening here. The woods suddenly ended and I could see some buildings in the distance. As I walked closer I realized that something was wrong with the town. It looked run down and destroyed. I had never seen anything like this before. It looked like the remnants of a town, in fact, it looked a lot like my town except after a war or something. The air was foggy and there were clouds of what looked like smog in the air. There were some houses except chunks of the walls were all gone and the roof was gone as well. There were twisted fences, some still in the ground and others just laying on the ground crumpled in a ball. It looked like there were pieces of cars scattered everywhere. There was no green anywhere. It was all brown, gray and black.


Then I remembered Linnie. Linnie disappeared and I did too, so maybe she is here! We can figure out how to get out of here together. “Linnie? Are you here?” There was no response. Maybe she already left and is trying to find some other people. But she disappeared at the same time as me, we fell into the tree or into the hole in the tree, together. There is a very small chance that Linnie is here with me.  But in my heart I knew that she wasn’t here. I had always had a bond with Linnie. I always sensed if she had walked into room or if she was near me and knew when she was hurt and in trouble. But I didn’t sense Linnie. Actually, when I even tried to sense Linnie, there was nothing there, nothing at all. That was weird. I had always sensed Linnie even if it was only a little bit, but I had never just felt nothing at all like I always had.


I have to get my priorities in order. I am stuck here in this weird world that looks like was destroyed and there doesn’t look like there is anyone here. How will I get out of here? What if I am stuck here forever? But also, if Linnie isn’t here, where is she? I shook my head as an attempt to clear my thoughts. I will find a way to get out of here, I know it and I will find Linnie, too. And with that thought in my mind, I set off into the destroyed town to try to find someone, anyone that could help me.

Linnie


I walked for five minutes through the woods that look strangely familiar. They looked just like the woods that were in my town before I came here. As I continued walking through the woods, I came across a path. I remember this path. This was the path that Caleb and I walked on when we were taking a walk; right before I came here. But, I know that I'm not still in my old town I know I'm somewhere else but why does it feel like these woods are exactly like the ones that I know; the ones in my town. As I continued walking, I found myself remembering things that I was sure used to know. Then, I saw an old stump. I remembered that Caleb and I used to play on that stump when we were little kids. As I rounded a corner, I knew exactly what is going to be around that corner. There is going to be a tree that is split in half and one half is perpendicular to the ground and the other half is standing up. And across from the tree, there is a large bush that has red berries on it. And sure enough, as I rounded that corner, I was right. There was the tree and bush, just as I had described them. My descriptions fit what was there and I had never been here before. I didn't even know where I was, but I still, for some reason knew what it looked like. This is weird, this place is exactly like my own town except it's not. It's like I'm in the future or something.


When I finally got out of the woods, I saw a sign. I knew that sign. It was faded wood that had blue lettering and said “Welcome to Irrsdale”. I rode my bike or I used to ride my bike past that sign every single day. I didn't know where I was but somehow, I did and it made no sense to me. Am I in alternate reality? Well maybe. Maybe there are some people I know or maybe I should just go to my house and see what's there. I don’t know what is going on, but, maybe someone will know. As I continued walking through my town, I found the street that I lived on, Sparrow Street. I walked down to my house. It looked the same. It was a dark blue house with navy shutters. It was a symmetrical house with the door right in the center of it with four windows on either side of it; two upstairs, two downstairs. It looked like a house that you would find on a magazine cover. And it looked exactly the same as it did in my world. But as I got closer, I noticed something was slightly off; all the windows and doors were open.


My dad had severe allergies to anything outdoors. If he went outside, his face would get all puffy and then his airways would begin to constrict, so we always left the whole house closed up. We needed to. He used to love the outdoors when he was a kid and could be outside. His allergies didn’t start until right after he graduated college. He told the story that right after the last person got their diploma, his face started to swell up and he couldn’t breathe. He had to be rushed to the hospital and he almost died. The doctors didn’t know what he had and they still don’t today. So my father had to observe the outdoors from his window and only reconcile about what it was like being outside. He was one of the reasons I don’t really like the outdoors. It’s because my mom didn’t like it and my father couldn’t take me. So, no one had really taken me outside and taken me for a hike or anything.


Our family wasn’t really a family. I mean, we would eat dinner together sometimes, but my mom had to work a lot because she was the one that made most of the money for our family. My dad couldn’t go outside and my mom was pretty introverted, so she didn’t like to go out with me. Whenever I did something, it was usually because I had been invited by Caleb’s family. I thought that I was closer to Caleb’s family than I was with my own. I didn’t have a sibling, so I didn’t have someone growing up with, to play with in the car or outside with me. Caleb’s family was so much better than mine. He had an older brother and they were really close. His parents were both extremely athletic and they loved to be outside. They went for a family hike every weekend and in the winter they went skiing together. I was usually invited, but sometimes my mom didn’t want me to go. I wasn’t not sure why; she might not want me to be there all the time, or maybe she didn't want Caleb’s parents to think that she wasn’t doing a good job as a parent. Maybe she didn’t want me to like Caleb and his family more than my own. I wished that our family were closer. I wanted a family that is more like Caleb’s.
I heard a buzzing noise, that broke me out of my train of thought. I looked up. I saw this floating thing in the air. It looked like a silver oval from the bottom. I watched it land. It landed in the driveway of my house, or the house that I lived in, in the other world. I realized that there is a person in it. That thing was just flying! It was like a little oval car thing or like a helicopter. I watched a familiar person climb out of it. He looked just like my dad. He was tall and had hair that was brown but when he moved the sunlight caught on some red highlights. My father was very pale, almost to the point where his veins could be seen through his skin. He was rather scrawny because he wasn’t inspired to workout indoors. He just wanted to be outdoor and go running or skiing or rock climbing or pretty much any other sport. He was bent over, almost like a hunchback but he just seemed to close in on himself. He also never seemed happy. He was depressed that he had to stay inside everyday and was probably going to have to stay inside for the rest of his life.


But this guy had the same face as my father, but other than that looked completely different. He seemed bigger. I thought it was because of the way that he walked and seemed to present himself. He walked with a straight back and his head held tall. He just exuded an air of confidence, pretty much like the exact opposite of my father. He was tan and was muscular. It looked like he worked outside all day. And one of the biggest differences I saw with this man and my father was that he seemed happy. I couldn’t remember a time in my life that my father had looked genuinely happy. This guy looked like he laughed all the time and the wrinkles around his mouth seemed to prove it.


I walked over to him. “Linnie,” he said, “I thought you were going over to Caleb’s, so why are you here?”
“What?” I said, “What are you doing out here?  Why do you look so different? What year is it? How do you know who I am?”


“Linnie, what are you talking about, are you okay? Why would I have to stay inside? And, of course, I know you, I am your father,” he replied, looking at me quizzically.


“But, you look so different. And you have to stay inside so that, well so that, you don’t die,” I said back to him.
“I don’t know what you are talking about, Linnie,” he replied, “You don’t look so good. Maybe you should go lay down and rest.”


“Wait, what year is is?” I repeated.


“Oh honey,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s 3120.”


“What?” I gasped. “I’m in the future, 1000 years in the future!”

Caleb
As I walked through the rubble and debris, I couldn’t help but think of what happened. I was not sure who was living here, if anyone, but I hadn't seen anyone. It was weird though, the town seemed sort of familiar. It’s almost like it is my town. The houses, more like the remains of the houses, looked pretty familiar. Even though the colors were faded and everything seemed to be covered with a layer of black dust, I could imagine what it used to look like. As I continued to walk around the remains of the town, I passed a sign. I knew that sign. It was the welcome sign for our town, Irrsdale. The sign was still mostly intact except there was a chunk that looked like was burned out and the blue lettering had faded even more than it had been before in my own world. I couldn’t believe it. I was in my town, but it was all destroyed. I thought that I was in the future because as I walked through my ruined town, I saw the remains of a finished apartment development that was just beginning to be built in my world, but in this place, they were already finished and now they were destroyed.
I heard a branch snap and I spun around. “Who’s there?” I asked.

No one responded. I looked around. I didn’t see anyone. I shook my head and continued walking. Maybe I imagined it. Maybe I’m going crazy. I don’t know. But then I heard another branch snap. I turned around again. I saw some black thing quickly dart out of sight behind the big tree. What was that? I walked over to the tree. I checked behind the tree. There was no one there. Then I looked up. There was a women that had climbed up the tree. She looked down at me fearfully. She was dressed in all black clothes and they looked like they were falling apart. She had dust all over her face; it looks like the same dust that was all over the houses.
Then I recognized who she was. “Are you Hanna Scrudk?” I asked her, “You live on the street across from mine. You look so different. I have always seen you wearing a skirt and blouse. And I knew that you hated to be dirty.”


“Caleb, of course, you know me, I saw you every day, but how are you alive? And what are you wearing? Where did you get new clothes?” she responded.


“What do you mean ‘how am I alive? Did I die here?” I questioned.


“Well, we all assumed that you died. Your mom said that she saw you the tree branch fall when you were trying to gather food for them. She feels so guilty and she hasn’t come out of her shelter since the incident. We don’t know how she is getting food. She might be starving herself.” she answered.


“Okay, this might sound crazy but I think I came from the past. I’m not quite sure where I am because I’m from 2120 an-”, I said but she interrupted me.


“Sorry, but there is no way that you can be from that year. That is 1000 years ago. It is 3120.”


“It can’t be 3120. How can I be 1000 years in the future but still have the same people living in town? Wait, what even happened to this town?” I asked with a very confused look on my face.


She looked down and her face darkened. “I don’t really like to talk about it. And I don’t really know what happened. All I know is that one day, everything was fine and when I woke up the next morning, our house collapsed and my husband was killed because a support beam struck him. No one really knows what happened. We assume it is was a bomb or something nuclear. But, if it was something nuclear, we don’t have any place to go, so we stay.”


“Oh, that’s awful,” I exclaimed, “But why don’t you leave. It doesn’t look like you have anything here, no food or housing?”


“We are too scared to leave. We aren’t sure if there is anything around us and we still have so food, though it is getting harder to find, so we think we could manage for a couple more years,” Hanna replied.


My stomach growled loudly. I realized that I hadn’t eaten since I got here, early this morning and now I could see the moon peeking out over the sky, hardly visible through all of the debris in the air. Hanna didn’t seem to notice. I figured that it must be normal here to be hungry because there seemed to be very limited food. I didn’t want to just barge in and ask for food when they have to work so hard to get it, so I kept quiet.
“Hey, do you want to go see your mom?” Hanna asked.


“I don’t know if I should,” I replied, “I mean, I’m not even her real son, not at least wherever we are.”
“Maybe you’re right. You can come to my house, well, more like the remains where I live,” she said.


“Okay, thank you,” I responded. Well, I’m going to have to figure out something in the morning on how to get out of here, but I also have to help these people. They have no hope and if they stay here, they are going to run out of food. Tomorrow I can do this; right now I need some rest and maybe some food if I can get it without being rude.


When we arrived at Hanna’s place where she was staying, I was shocked at how she was able to live in this pile of rubble. I couldn’t even call it a house. It looked like it was two corners of the house that weren’t destroyed completely and Hanna had tied a tarp to the top of the crumbling walls to create a little corner with a roof over it. There was a bed that was shoved in the corner of the wall, taking up most of the space that was covered by the tarp.


“How are you able to live in this space?” I asked, surprised that this situation was worse than what I had first suspected.


“It’s hard,” she replied, shaking her head and sighing. “But, I’m managing.”


“What are you even eating?” I asked. “How are you still surviving? What are you going to do when you run out of food?”


“Well, right now, I have discovered that eating nuts, such as acorns, have the most protein and fiber and will sustain me for the longest. I also eat any type of fruit that I can find. But I have been trying to start a garden. Starting a garden will give me some vegetables and fruits to eat and survive off of,” she replied.


“Where are you getting your water and where did you get your seeds to start your garden?” I asked her.
“I had some seed packets before the accident and-”, my stomach growled loud enough for her to hear and to stop talking. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she exclaimed, “I forgot to offer you some food. I don’t have much, but you need it more than I do. You are still growing.”


“Well, if you don’t mind,” I said, “I don’t need it. I’m sure I could find some somewhere.”
“Oh, I can give you some,” she replied.


Hanna led me over to her shelter. She reached behind the bed and pulled out a couple of acorns and other nuts and a carrot.


“Sorry, this is all I have today, but tomorrow we could go food hunting if you wanted to,” she said to me with an apologetic tone.


“Sure! And maybe we could explore a little and see if we could find a better place for you to stay. It seems hard living here with not much of anything and no electricity,” I told her.


“Maybe we can go explore a little,” she said to me, “I have always been afraid to explore because no one who still is here wants to explore and I don’t want to go alone because I could get lost or hurt.”


“Okay, we can go in the morning,” I said back to her.


As I sat on Hanna’s bed, eating my nuts and carrots, I remembered Linnie. I couldn’t believe that I forgot about her! I wondered where she was and if she was okay. I open my mouth to say something to Hanna, but I never got a chance to speak as my eyelids began to feel very heavy and I fell into a deep sleep.

Linnie


After I began to wrap my head around the idea that somehow, I was in the future, I began to become curious about the world that I was in.


“Do you remember when flying cars were invented?” I asked my dad or the man that was my dad in my world.
“I don’t remember,” he replied, “They have been around for as long as I have known.”


“So, this place is pretty advanced,” I said, “Do you know how advanced you are with medicine? My father, well my father from my world, has a disease where he can’t go outside. He is allergic to the outdoors and I was wondering if you would have a cure for that or at least something that could help my father.”


“That sounds like an awful disease to have,” my father exclaimed, “I might have a medicine that could help your father or cure him. There was actually an outbreak of a disease here a couple of years ago and it sounds just like what your father is experiencing. My wife actually was one of the ones who got the disease, but she took a pill and she was okay and now she can go outside with no problems. I can get you a pill that she took. But I have a question for you; how did you disappear?”


“I don’t know,” I replied, “The last thing that I remember was that I went into a hole inside a tree and disappeared.”


“Do you think that you could go back to your world, somehow?” my father asked me, “If we went back into the woods; do you think that you could figure out what tree you disappeared into. If we knew that, maybe we could get you back to your world?”


“Yeah, we should try,” I said, “I actually tied my red polka dotted hair ribbon around the trunk of the tree that I landed by when I got here so that I could identify the tree. Do you want to go today to see if I could get back?”
“Sure, we can actually go now, if you want to,” my father replied, “I can go get you the pill to see if it can help your father and then we can go.”


My father and I left to go off to the woods. As I walked into the woods, I realized that I might get to see Caleb. I wonder if he was looking for me. Then I had another thought; what if Caleb disappeared, too. I dismissed that thought. Caleb couldn’t have disappeared. He probably never went into the tree after I disappeared. He probably went to go tell my parents. My parents are going to be mad at me and probably won’t believe me. I should get back right away. As my father and I walked further into the woods, I found myself remembering things.


“I went this way,” I told my father.


As we turned the corner, the tree with the red polka dotted ribbon came into view.


“There it is!” I exclaimed, “It is the tree!”


As we walked over to the tree, I thought to myself, I hope this works. I hope I can get back to my world. I took a deep breath and walked back into the hole in the tree. Nothing happened for a second. Then as I took another step into the hole, the familiar white light began to engulf me.


“Bye Dad,” I called out, “Thank you for the pill and everything!”


I landed with a thump. I looked around. I looked up into the trees. There were no silver things in the trees and my father was gone. I’m back! I didn’t realize how much I missed my world. I should go find my family and give the pill to my father. As I began to walk away. I heard a noise and turned around. There was a blast of white light coming from the hole in the tree and someone else was emerging. I looked closely and realized it was Caleb.



Caleb


The next morning I woke up and found that Hanna was gone. Maybe she went to gather some food, but why would she leave without me? I told her yesterday that I would come with her. I decided to get up and walk around the town; more like the remains of the town. I saw Hanna. She was talking to someone that I didn’t recognize. They were both hunched close together and looking over their shoulders as if they didn’t want to be seen together.


I called out Hanna’s name, “Hey Hanna!”


She turned around quickly and I saw a flash of silver disappear into her pocket in the front of her shirt. She smiled at me, but it didn’t look real. It looked sort of troubled.


“Is everything alright?” I asked her, “If you are busy today, that’s fine, but I was wondering when you wanted to go explore the woods today?”


“Oh, we can right now. I was just, uh,” Hanna looked around. It looks like she is hiding something, I thought to myself.


“I was just asking if Marie had any food that we could have,” Hanna repeated. “Well, let’s go!” Hanna said with a fake smile. She started walking towards the woods.


“Hanna, are you sure you’re okay?” I asked her, concerned for her.


“Yes, I’m okay,” she replied, “But, I have a question for you; how did you get here?” she asked suddenly seeming more serious and suspicious.


“I don’t know. I think that when I went into the hole in the tree, I somehow came here. There was a flash of bright light and then I woke up here,” I said.


Hanna quickly moved, more quickly than I had ever seen her move; I saw a flash of silver and suddenly there was a knife pressed up against my throat. “Stop lying to me,” Hanna hissed, “There is no thing as this thing where you just go into a tree and go to a different world. Who sent you? Why are you here?”


“Hanna, I swear that I’m not lying,” I said, trying to remain calm, “What would I have to gain by coming here? Do you think that I am going to kill you? You were nothing but nice to me, well except for now.”


“Stop trying to convince me that you are good,” Hanna snarled at me, “ I know you are lying and you are trying to find out our secret, but guess what, you’ll never find out because if you don’t tell me why you are really here, I will kill you. You have five seconds. 5-4-3.”


As Hanna counted down, I knew I had to do something. This woman is crazy. She is going to kill me if I don’t say something. But I am telling her the truth and if I lie, then she will eventually find out and kill me then. I brought my elbow back and whacked Hanna in the face. The knife cut my neck, but it wasn’t bad, only a shallow cut, but that wasn’t important. I started to run. The trees blended into a brown hazy blur as I ran, trying to find the tree with the hole. I ran past the welcome sign and I knew that I was on the right path. As I rounded the bend, I spotted the tree and ran inside the hole. A white light began to engulf me and I barely heard Hanna’s angry shout before the light took over my view and everything faded to black.


I landed beside the tree and opened my eyes. I think it was my world. The trees looked the same and they were green and healthy. Then I saw Linnie running towards me.


“Caleb, where did you go?” Linnie called out to me, “Did you disappear to another world like me? I didn’t see you there though. Oh, what happened to your neck? Is it okay?”


“Linnie, my neck is fine, it’s only a little cut,” I said, “Wait, you disappeared, too. I didn’t see you either. I went to this place, I think it was our town, but in the future except something awful happened to it and it was destroyed.”


“Really?” Linnie exclaimed, “I went into the future, too and I think it was our town, but our town was really advanced with medicine and technology. There were flying cars! And my dad from the world got me this cure to see if it could help my dad here! My dad could go outside again!”


“That's so exciting, Linnie!” I said, “Do you want to go back? We have to prepare ourselves for questions and anger from our parents and your dad will be so happy once you give him the cure!”
“Okay let’s go!” Linnie exclaimed.


• • •


And as they walked off back to their homes, feeling content and happy to be back in their own world, they didn’t notice the flash of bright light that lit up the darkening night or the dark figure climbing out of the hole whispering, “I’m going to find him. He better watch his back. He doesn’t know who he is dealing with. He’ll never see it coming.”






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