The Day Trip

March 20, 2018
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One slip and it's over, climb the rungs one grip at a time, the rusty ladder creaks as a foot is placed on each individual bar, holding the life of a young adult in it’s hands. Pedestrians watch from below, driving along an endless strip of exhaust-filled highway. Duke’s sweat dripping down his face, he holds onto the final steel bar, pulling himself to safety. As he rises to his feet to see the skyscraping city surrounding him, Duke removes his black homemade ski mask from his head. Pushing his blond scruffy hair back, he then takes his charcoal backpack off of his back, taking surveillance of the area before unzipping his bag. Slowly reaching in Duke withdraws a spray paint can, a can which promotes his artwork onto a canvas larger than life. Before he indulges in his favourite past time he decides to be smart and take one last glance around the area; the rust covered ladder, the grassy landscape and the parking lot surrounding the billboard. On this final take something is different, Duke looks at the grass seeing nothing. “Check” he says to himself, he looks all throughout the parking lot - not a single car or pedestrian in sight. “Clear.” But it’s his final check of the rust covered ladder is when he notices it, a dark figure slowing climbing the ladder just as he did moments before. As the figure begins to get closer, climbing with nearly no effort, Duke can see the outline of a tall man wearing a dark suit with a bright pin on the left of his jacket. Duke begins to panic as he fears it is the police, or worse his father. Duke looks for a way out but jumping over the rail would only result in an unfortunate plument guaranteeing certain death, so he decides to wait it out, and talk to the man. “He didn't even catch me,” Duke says to himself. After what feels like ages Duke can see the outline more clearly now, the man is only five rungs from the top. Duke can now see it is definitely not his father nor is it a police officer, this man does not resemble either, he resembles that of a man Duke has never seen before. As the man finally makes it to the final rung Duke notices what the tiny badge on his jacket says, it reads TTF. “What the hell does that mean?” he thinks to himself. “Hey son, mind giving me a hand here” asks the man reaching out his hand as an invitation. Duke reaches for his hand grasping him tightly. “I could drop him and I am out of trouble” …. “No one will know” …. “Just some old guy who slipped off a ladder.” Before Duke can make his final decision the man speaks, “Well are you going to help or just hold my hand now?” says the man. “Sorry I got lost in my thoughts.” “Happens to the best of us” the man says with a smirk on his face. Duke helps pull the man atop the billboard and now the two are standing no more than a metre apart.


“Jericho, .. Peter Jericho” says the man. He can sense the fear rushing through Duke’s bones as he does not know what this man wants. “Relax kid, you’re not in trouble,” says Jericho. “Alright so what do you want?” asks Duke. There is a brief moment of silence but it is suddenly interrupted with a sudden flash of sprinkling rain. “Let's go somewhere a little drier” says Jericho, without being able to even respond Jericho turned his back to Duke, bent down to reach for the ladder and began his departure - being even more cautious this time making sure not to slip. He finally reaches the ground, taking a firm step onto the black pavement, he is safe. Duke’s turn. While still at the top Duke peers down the ladder seeing Jericho at the bottom. He asks himself “what could this man possibly want with me” … “I don't know him, and have never seen him in my entire life.”  Before departing down the ladder, Duke using his spray paint, writes a small TTF on the billboard. With that he packs his cans and ski mask into his bag, zips it up and throws it on over his grey sweater. He reaches for the ladder holding grip just as he had minutes before, this time descending. He disregards the weather and departs faster than he had previously, nearly halfway down the ladder Duke steps for the rung below him with his right foot, due to the speed and the weather conditions, Duke’s leg slips right off the rung and into the open air around him. He feels the weight of his now dangling leg pull his entire body downward. “You alright up there?” shouts Jericho. “Does it look like I’m okay!” Duke replies. “Well actually yes, you look quite comfortable dangling there” … “want me to come up and help?” Jericho says. “No, I'm alright I just need to get my leg...” Duke’s sentence is cut short by a deafening bolt of lighting that tears through the sky like the impact of a hammer hitting a nail. “Kid! ...Kid! Are you alright?’ “Jesus Christ - yes I'm alright, I nearly fell off this damn thing,” Duke replies. “Alright good, now just swing that leg up onto the bar and make your way down” … “Maybe be a little more careful this time so you don't end up killing yourself.” Duke swings his dangling leg back up onto the rust covered ladder and slowly but steadily makes his way to the bottom, ensuring his foot is confidently placed on each individual rung. Duke finally steps off of the ladder. With a sigh of relief he says “Now, do you mind telling me where we are going?”.


“You’ll find out soon enough” Jericho replies. Without hesitation Jericho turns his back and starts walking through the empty parking lot. Duke quickly follows suite. As they are walking away Jericho takes one swift look back at the billboard and notices a small freshly written word, he pauses for a moment to make it out, a smirk creeps onto his face as he makes out the letters TTF. Jericho then turns back around and continues on his way through the parking lot. “You’re not going to kidnap me are you?” asks Duke. “Relax Duke no one is going to kidnap you” … “Just walk with me and you'll see”. “H-how do you know my name,” Duke says with a sense of fear and curiosity on his face. “You will find all of this out soon enough, like I said walk with me.” At this point Duke is beginning to regret ever accompanying this man. While walking, Duke can now notice that the man is over 6ft tall, compared to Duke’s 5’10 stature this man is a monster. He is wearing a black suit with that same silly pin on his jacket. He has brown hair ...and his eyes - “I don’t think I have ever seen his eyes,” Duke thinks to himself. After about 5 minutes of just walking through this deserted parking lot Jericho stops. “Okay, we are here” Jericho says. The two stop just at the outskirts of the parking lot, they are standing in front of a large building that looks like an old factory. It’s bricks are crumbling and the architecture reminds Duke of the 1600’s. “What is this place?” asks Duke. “My warehouse” Jericho replies. “If you’re an old creep just know I have a knife on me and 911 on speed dial” Duke says. “A creep?!” Jericho replies with shock on his face. “Oh quit being so paranoid Duke.” The two walk to the large industrial doors. Jericho reaches for something in his jacket pocket and pulls out a key. It is silver with a gold tint, nearly a foot long, with each individual tooth of the key engraved with those same letters TTF. “Who is this guy,” Duke thinks to himself. Jericho then takes this key and inserts it in the door’s lock. He twists the key 4 times around and kicks the door open. The door bursts open with more force than a speeding bullet and slams into the warehouse wall. The darkness pours out of the room like water leaving a glass and clings to the two men standing right outside of it. “No way in hell am I going in there with you,” Duke says. “Duke, this is important - you must trust me, there are reasons you are here that you can hardly understand. If you follow me you will discover these secrets, as well as many more.” “Listen man, I don't know you and if you think you know me you’ve got it wrong. There's no reason I'm here I am the most ordinary kid you have ever met,” says Duke. “Duke, you may be an ordinary kid but, what you don't know about is your extraordinary future.” With that, Jericho steps into the darkness leaving Duke in the doorway. “Hey! Hey! ...What did you just say about my future? … Hey!” Duke shouted. After what seemed like hours Duke finally got a response, “Come find out” Jericho shouts back. Duke is so consumed by curiosity he follows Jericho inside the warehouse. As Duke steps inside, the first thing he notices is the almost complete darkness inside the warehouse, he can see nothing more than a few feet in front of him. The warehouse gives off a sort of stench that is a mix of old metal bits and rotten wood. The smell filled every nook and cranny in the place. “Jericho, where am I? ... Actually, where are you?” Duke asks. “One second Duke,” Jericho says. Duke can make out small mumbles coming from Jericho. “If I connect this here and put that there than that should go there and it should work.” ... “Alright Duke are you ready?” asks Jericho. “Yes I have been ready for a few minutes now,” Duke replies. All of a sudden a large bright light fills the entire warehouse and Duke can make out a foreign machine sitting in the middle of the warehouse. “What is that thing?” Duke shouts. “Come check it out, I think you’ll like it” Jericho replies. Duke slowly makes his way over to the machine and stops a foot in front of it to admire it. The machine has a single black platform, with TTF spray painted in the middle of it. The machine is suspended a few feet off the ground, surrounding the platform are two circles outlining the platforms shape, neither of them have anything on them and are just a dull grey colour.  “Alright so what is it?” Duke asks. “Come with me we need to chat”. Jericho notions to a hatch located just beside the machine. “I mean what do I have to lose at this point,” Duke thinks to himself. Jericho reaches down and lifts the hatch exposing another room with two chairs and a ladder to enter. The two men climb down the ladder and are now in the underground room. “Have a seat,” Jericho says to Duke. Notioning to a car just beside the ladder, the two men sit and Duke asks “Mind explaining where I am and why I’m here?”. “You see Duke, I work for an organization, the TTF, or in other words, Time Travelers Federation”. “Did you just say Time travel?” asks Duke. “I most certainly did. Believe it or not time travel has been present in society since the early 60s. It has advanced from large dingy machines to small mobile ones like the one you saw above us,” replies Jericho. “Okay got it - I didnt need a history lesson but I understand, I am just trying to comprehend any reason that I have been brought here.” Duke says. “Okay Duke, so this may sound a little unbelievable and your emotions may be rushing afterwards but I am just going to tell you,” … “my wing of the federation that I work in is to discover new time travel Stars, the astronauts of the future as I like to call them. So ever since you were about 4 years old my team has had a close eye on you. We heard about you through the Excelling Youths program at your elementary school however, as we can see, you did not stick with that. We have been monitoring your marks in school, your reactions towards different situations and your overall personality. Our system has chosen you to be the next voyager to enter into a place only few have ever been lucky enough to go, ...the future.” Jericho responded. “You what?! … you guys have been watching me all my life?!  What gives you that right!” Duke said angrily. “Duke, Duke, relax we had permission from your mother and father - they wanted to go through with this.” Duke said nothing, he sat in the chair staring at his thumbs feeling betrayed and like his entire life was a lie. “So, basically you are telling me I am living in the Truman Show?” Duke said. “No, Duke you are not living in the Truman Show. You are living in a project much larger than that, you are the next time traveling Star!” Jericho responded. Duke’s stare had now shifted from his hands to Jericho. Duke starred the man in the eyes for the first time and noticed a gold tint to his eyes unlike anything he had ever seen before. He was curious. “What's with your eyes?” he asked. “Well Duke, when you travel to the future many bodily features can be altered and changed. For example, some have had extra toes infused on their body or extra fingers, a change of hair colour, etc. When I travelled to the future I was greeted with a golden tint infused in my eyes.” Jericho said. Duke was speechless, he had no idea what to do - venture into the future or live a normal life. “Why me?” he asked. “I can not answer that yet Duke” … “Trust me there is a very evident reason you will discover in times soon to come. Now follow me, and we will get you ready.” Duke decided it was now or never, become someone or remain a nobody graffiti artist. “Alright I will do it” Duke said, with that Jericho stood up and began to climb the ladder leaving the hatch and entering the world above. Duke followed suite. The two stood in front of the time machine and took in the immaculate glory that it is. “Okay Duke, we need to put this on you.” Jericho reached under the platform and brought out a vest. It appeared to be made of the same materials as a bullet proof vest however it looked different, it had screens on it emitting gold and blue lights. “What are those lights for?” asked Duke. “They will protect you as you transfer from present to future. The crossing over produces darkness and a sense of loneliness as you are hurling through a void of nothingness, into a world unknown. We have programmed these lights to assist you both in sight and mentality,” Jericho responds. “I really don't know about this,” Duke says. “Trust me Duke this is what you need, you need to do this.” “Why though? I still do not understand why!” Duke said with slight aggression. “Duke if you stand on that platform and go through with this, before you hurtle into the void I will tell you why.” “Fine I will do it, just promise I will make it back alive.” Duke said. “Trust me Duke you will make it,” Jericho replied. Duke could sense the truth in Jericho's eyes, for the first time Duke felt a connection between him and this man. He felt like he knew him. Before Duke could ask Jericho chimed in and said “alright quit staring at me and put this thing on.”  Jericho assisted Duke in putting the vest on and said “Now, just step onto the platform and here take my pin. When you are ready to go simply press down on the pin and you’re integration into the future will begin.” “Got it,” Duke said. He stepped onto the platform, took the pin from Jericho's hand, spent a minute looking at it, studying its smooth curves and sharp edges. Then he focused his attention on the world around him trying to take in every last smell, noise and sight. “Okay I am ready,” he said softly. “Okay Duke, now turn the pin over and press the small button on the back.” Duke turned the bottom around and noticed a small button placed directly under the sharp pin. “Here goes nothing” he thought. Duke pressed the button. “Okay I pressed it! Now keep up your end of the deal and tell me why.” The circles around the platform began to spin, the platform lowered from Dukes feet and he was suspended floating in mid air. A large blue tornado-like swirl began twirling around him he could see the atoms spirling around him. He started to feel a pull first at his knees then it started slowly moving up his body. “Why am I here? You promised me you would tell me!” Just before Duke was sent into the future Jericho said, just loud enough for Duke to make out, “Because Duke...I am you ...and I need your help.” With that Duke vanished into thin air. Leaving the warehouse and the world as he knew it, only to begin his new adventure in an entirely unknown and alienated world...






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mackenzie42 said...
today at 2:31 pm
awesome story! loved it
 
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