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If There Is A Cure

If There Is A Cure
A steady beeping filled up the stuffy, technology filled cement room. My sister Emily was tugging at my hand telling me to “Come on! Give it a try!” but I didn’t want to. The idea itself was so bizarre it made me dizzy. Then to actually consider doing it made the room spin around me.

There were too many “what ifs”. That’s what I was scared of: my “what ifs”. What if it didn’t work? What if we’re getting our hopes up? What if we get stuck there and never make it back? What if we can’t find one and he still dies and all this was for nothing?!

She let go of my hand. Her smile disappeared into the mist of tears forming in her topaz eyes. Crap…I caved. I wasn’t going to let her go alone to a place unknown to the people of the now, and there was the possibility of finding a cure this way.

I stepped forward getting that silly ear-to-ear grin as a reward. She started to punch buttons and turn knobs. A loud whirring sound flooded my ears. The machine standing in front of us looked more like an extra, extra, EXTRA large washing machine you could wash a baby hippo in. The front of the machine was extended out about five feet coming to a point and was made of a thick, light tinted glass. Looking through I could see a vivid rainbow of bright, sunny colors blinking back at me, and at the “butt” of the washing machine I saw the motor loud and ugly.

When she was finished pushing, pressing, and turning, Emily closed the door to cover the motor and opened the hatch to the top of the washing machine. Climbing on top she reached out a hand to me. I noticed her nails had been chewed off which was a sign of stress maybe? And after she had finally stopped biting her nails, too.

With a rueful sigh I stepped forward, however hesitant. Emily gave me a reassuring grin. I grasped her nail-bitten hand, climbed on top of the elephant of a washing machine and jumped in with her, half expecting water to fill my ears rather than the metronomous beeping.

We filled up the two pilot and copilot seats, clicking our seatbelts secure. Again, she started turning some more knobs and pushing some more buttons. A digital alarm clock started blinking and digits began to change caused from her button pushing. When the numbers finally stopped flickering they read 06:06:2106. Odd time, I though…date! My eyes widened. We were really about to travel, faster than the speed of light, and go 96 years into the fantasized lands of the when’s and if’s!

I heard Emily take a deep breath preparing to launch. I couldn’t breathe. All I could think was Do this for him! He deserves it! The washing machine jerked once then seemed to stall causing a squeak of anxiety to slip from my lips, then…WOOOOSH!

We took off! Colors rained down on the washing machine, washing us away into the place unknown to the present and past. Hypnotized by the waterfall of colors, my eyes grew owl-wide. There were colors I’ve never even seen before, colors never before been discovered by man, colors that were indescribable!

“Code red! Code red!” the machine sputtered.
I didn’t know what “code red” was but it couldn’t’ve been very good because it seemed as if the machine were starting to breakdown and go down. My heart skipped a beat in unison with the machine jerking hard down. Emily, pressing the panicked, sporadic buttons looked as if she was playing W. C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues.
We were on a roller coaster. A roller coaster that was going down down down, gaining so much speed I was lifted out of my seat and my breath was taken away. A continuous droning sound sang in my ear.
Shutter.
“Revived! Revived! Revived!”
Emily looked at me with a huge laugh of relief. I started laughing with her. I looked down at the date-clock. All of that took 23 years on the date-clock but on the regular time-watch read that all of that hadn’t taken but a few seconds. However, I felt that 23 years was more like it. Emily shrugged her shoulders at me to answer my quizzical look that asked, What the heck just happened? Then, suddenly, we came into a blinding white light like the tunnel to the heavens and then we jerked to an abrupt stop.
I squinted out the window trying to make sense of things then, turning back to Emily, I gasped. She was gone and in place of her laid a hospital file. With shaking hands I picked it up. The file was thick full of papers describing symptoms, doctor visits, medication, illnesses, reactions, and surgeries. Then there was the paper with the diagnosis. The typed black diagnosis read, Diagnosis: Crohn’s Disease; Depression.
A bat of realization hit me just as hard as the collision that hit the machine I was still strapped to. A loud cry escaped my lips as the thing that hit made the washer do a 360 in the air. Panicked, I dropped the hospital record and fumbled with the seatbelt. Freed of the strap I opened the hatch and ducked out of the oversized washing machine.
Running away from the washer I heard a great thunder bowl across the vast, darkening sky making me jump out of my Nikes. Craning my neck back to see the great black sky, wondering what happened to heaven’s tunnel of light, a shiver crept down my spine. I shifted my gaze towards the washing machine and then turned around to check out what other dark things lurked behind me. Darkness wasn’t lurking behind me, though. There, in place of what may have been at first darkness or even heaven’s bright tunnel, laid a bright city. My eyes were deceiving me so I shut them tightly, pinching myself, too, and opened my eyes again to a sunlit and active city.
With wide eyes I walked towards the city not even worried about the washing machine. I came across a moving sign that showed the temperature and date: Wayco, Texas…113F…June 6th, 2106… It worked. I was in Waco, Texas in 96 years. At least that’s where I thought I was seeing that now there was a “y” in the name.
Distracted by the “y” in Wayco I hardly noticed the line of cars that honked at me and almost running me over. Jumping out of their way I saw that every vehicle was almost the exact same – white, two-doors, with light tinted windows, and there were no vans or SUVs or bugs. No, there were just simply white cars and trucks. Looking closer I could see only women driving the cars and only men driving the trucks. The vehicles looked futuristic and aerodynamic. I noticed one of the vehicles’ wheels flickering. The wheels were holograms. They vehicles were actually hovering above the black tar road which was smooth and shiny. There were no cracks or potholes or patches in the road and the lines on the road were also electric yellow and white instead of painted yellow and white.
Though curious, I crinkled my brow in confusion I started to get a funny feeling about all this. I wanted to know where Emily went, why she vanished into the bright air. I wanted to go back to the washer and get washed away back home, and that’s where I started walking to.
Heading back to where the washer last was, my head began to ache. I stopped in my tracks remembering why I came here in the first place: to find a cure. Leaving was out of the question or should’ve been out of the question. My heart and my head were a million miles apart, north and south, stay and leave. My head was running through all the awful things that could happen if I stayed and didn’t leave while I had the chance but my heart was being sensitive and wanted to stay to do this for him. The battle between my head and heart made my headache hurt worse.
I couldn’t think so I let out a scream….!
The battle quieted down and I reversed my tracks towards the city.
***
Walking along the sidewalks I received some strange looks but I kept on walking to where? I didn’t know. I read the signs to buildings and billboards – all electronic. The financial businesses had signs with green electric letters, grocery type buildings’ signs were in blue letters and a hospital I saw had a red electric lettered sign. All the buildings and businesses I saw people enter had automatic sliding doors and the people that walked inside walked at a wheezing, slow pace…they were fat. In fact not a single building had a doorknob and neither did the cars. When one woman unlocked her car door it swung open and in she stepped. She was fat.
I soon became aware of whirring sounds that whirred at steady metronome tempos every time I passed a lamppost. I looked in the direction of the whirring to see read lights next to lenses on small black boxes. Hence the paranoia I realized. Yet on I walked, further into the city.
I came across a sign that wasn’t yet electronic. It was white with black large black letters on it that read in all caps, REFERENCE BUILDING. I thought it seemed promising so I found the building that matched the sign. The building was further away from all the other populated buildings and sidewalks and streets. The REFERENCE BUILDING was a loner. Walking up to the Reference Building I couldn’t help but smile at the doors – they had door knobs. I tugged the doors opened. Walking in to the building I smelled the reminiscent aroma of good books and old grandparents. An old man caught my eye and I caught his. He gave me a great and excited welcome, “A visitor? Ha! A visitor! Well! Come on in ma’am!” I gave him a smile and a simple, shy “Hi.”
Looking around I saw that this was nothing more than a really big library. The only difference was that there were a lot of metal racks that contained dozens of cardboard boxes, dusty boxes. The whole place was dusty, actually, adding to the “old” aroma. I turned back to the wrinkly gray-haired man. He was staring at me with a mischievous smile.
“What?” I looked at him and started to back away.
“I know who you are,” he smiled and I gave him a confound look.
“You’re from the past!” his smile widened showing what few teeth he had left. “And lemme guess…you’re here for answers.”
“H-how did you...do I…who are you?”
“You know who I am,” he said as if that were a satisfying answer. “Follow me,” he coughed, “I’ve been waiting for you.” His raspy voice made me want to clear my throat but I resisted the urge.
He took me to the far back of the library. Walking back there I noticed several authors: Ray Bradbury, Robert Frost, Edgar Allen Poe, Joan Lowery Nixon, Jodi Picoult, James Patterson, Peg Kehret, all the authors I had books by, and the funny thing was they were all in the same section closest to the back.
He stopped when we reached the back. The back looked like a study that had been used quite recently.
I jumped at the sound of the old man’s voice echoing around the study, “Yeah, you’re from the “then”, the past. You’re here to find a cure. A cure. Just one. But I can assure you that you’ll find more than one cure here tonight.”
Tonight. I looked out a window in the west where the sun now sat low. I hadn’t been in Wayco but two hours and it was already getting dark. I finally caught on to what he had said, “What? Wait, how did you know I was from the past? How did you know I’m here looking for a cure?!” He turned around to look at me.
“I’ve been doing research for oh! so many darned years. Trying to find a cure for Crohn’s before it took over. Needless to say I was so many darned years too late.”
“Wha-what? It?”
“But didn’t you notice?”
“Notice what?”
“The people. Out there on the streets, they were scared! Fat too. It’s taken over! Technology has finally taken over. It’s almost as if the programmers have given technology a mind of its own and the people are now controlled by it. The only technology I have here are lights, lamps and an old rotary phone.” He walked to the desk that sat next to the west window and pulled out some heavy files.
“What exactly has happened here? I expected that by now there’d be some sort of cure for Crohn’s Disease or something. I mean that’s why my sister put the date to this day right?”
“You don’t have a sister.”
My head was swirling. I couldn’t think straight. I did, I did have a sister. She’d brought me there and I wished she hadn’t.
“There is but one cure for Crohn’s. This cure is not just for Crohn’s but it’s also for one other thing here in this God-forsaken world. You see, our world has reached a bump in the road. Mankind is too smart for mankind’s sake, so smart in fact that we have become technologically unstable. Technology has taken over man’s mind and people just aren’t what they used to be…” his voice drifted away to a mumble and I was terrified.
There wasn’t but one cure for Crohn’s but I was beginning to think there wasn’t a cure at all the way he rambled on. Looking over his shoulder I read the pages he slowly flipped through. They were tests he had done on some sort of medicine I guessed and the effect they had had on the patients. Every effect the medicine had had on the patient turned out to be the same: death. The old man saw me reading over his shoulder.
“Nothing worked. If they weren’t treated at all they would’ve suffered,” he said with remorse. “Though they’re scared, they’re evil just like the technology these days.”
I shook my head, tears filling my eyes, “No, no! That’s not right! There has to be something, anything! I can’t just let him die! I’m supposed to go back to the present with a cure! Not that!” my voice cracked.
“I’m sorry. It’s the truth. Death is it or suffering, but then suffering wouldn’t really be a cure would it? That’s what we are all doing. Every last soul on this planet is suffering. I’m waiting for us all to die so humanity can start all over because if you look out that window, look at all those people, you’ll see that they may as well be robots programmed to suffer, fear, and cause pain.”
I took a deep breath blinking back tears. “I know it hurts but that’s just how it is,” he told me.
“I know.” I let out the deep breath I had taken in and with it the stubborn resistance I’d had all the time. All along I had known that that was the only way it would end: death.
The old man threw another coughing fit. He bent over coughing and I started to pat his back when I saw the necklace slide to the outside of his shirt. He stood back up clearing his throat. I recognized that necklace. It was a heavy metal dove-shaped piece hanging on a chain of the same color next to a cross that matched, and the cross was pointed at the bottom. I recognized that necklace because my dad had given it to me. The old man looked at me then down at the necklace. He took it off, handing it to me.
“My name is Noah and you’re going to give this to me just like he gave it to you,” he smiled at me and that was when I recognized who he was. Noah. I never wanted a son but if I ever had one I’d want to name him Noah.
I looked at the necklace, warm against my palm. I felt a slight pressure against my palm and I squeezed the necklace tight.
“Goodbye for now,” Noah gave me another hopeful smile.
Suddenly a whirring and buzzing sound filled the air then a long droning sound then I was back in the washing machine, the hospital was gone and Emily was in place of it. The rainbow of never-before-seen colors was back and the date-clock and time-watch numbers were counting backwards and all I could hear was the loud, straight droning and the whole time I held on tight to the necklace, the cross’s point sinking into my hand.
***
“We’re losing him! Let’s get him back!”
I woke up to see my dad’s hand being moved from mine so the doctor could feel his pulse and a nurse moved me out of the way. I stood up with panicked eyes immediately flooding with salty tears.
“No! Daddy!!! Don’t leave me! Not yet, please!” I sobbed.
Another nurse grabbed my arms and tried to pull me out of that white sterile box but I fought against her. I was determined to stay with him and I slipped through her grip to take his hand again but I was too late. The doctor called his death, “June 6th, 3:33 p.m.”
They left the room to give me some time alone. I saw my best friend walk through the doors and she came and hugged me. A mist of tears rained out of her topaz eyes and I noticed her bitten nails, a sign of worry maybe? We cried together and I had a strange sense of déjà vu, like somehow I knew that this would happen, that he’d die, that I’d see Emily and see her bitten nails and see her cry. Hugging her I felt the warm metal I held in my hand and, backing away from her I put the necklace on.
I kissed my dad on the cheek and told him goodbye, my tears like a waterfall. Then Emily took my hand and we walked out of the hospital, through the sliding doors, and out onto the sidewalk. Above our heads I heard a whirring sound. I looked up to find a camera staring at me. I watched a large woman with fear in her eyes, wheezing, rush past Emily and I through the sliding doors and into the hospital.
Walking out into the bright sunlight I shifted my gaze from the sliding automatic doors and craned my neck back to see a buzzard soaring against the vast blue sky and smiled. My dad was up there looking down at me I knew, and somehow or another I knew that the only answer was death. A horrible thing, maybe, but compared to the suffering world today death was the only cure for Crohn’s Disease and technology. Death was the only cure for humanity…





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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

GangstaEyes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm
Wow Alana, this is REALLY powerful and so well written! It's crystal clear that you put a lot of thought, hard work and emotion into this, and it definitely pays off.  Great job! (Could you comment on one of my new ones that got posted today?) Keep writing, this was seriously amazing :) And who is your english teacher? Did PAYNE inspired you to write something this great?!
 
alanacarlene replied...
Oct. 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm
Thank you SO much! And well...Payne didn't really inspire me to write it so much as he did make me lol No my dad kinda inspired me and my bff Emily! But I gotta give Payne some credit cuz I wouldn't have written this if it weren't for him lol and YES! I definately check out some of your knew work! Thanks for reading this since I know its looooonng! :P
 
Healing_Angel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 18, 2010 at 3:06 am
I LOVE THIS!! It's amazing! I love how you combined 2 ideas so well(that's hard work!) Well done! Keep Writing!
 
alanacarlene replied...
Oct. 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm
Wow! Thank you! I'm so glad you like it and thank you for taking the time to read it too :D Im gonna have to check out some of your work!!!
 
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