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Flying Forward

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I had never expected to be in a situation like this. In a place or year like this: so very familiar but repulsively different. A sense of déjà vu swept over me- mixed with some surreal element I had no name for. As if I had stepped into the movie Avatar, I half expected tall, blue Na’vi creatures with long braids to pass by me. I wasn’t sure how to find my way home, or were home was exactly; all I knew was that my friends were quickly disappearing and few people were willing to help.
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My name is Kimberley Hamilton. I was born in South Africa, which is how I got my name, after the diamond-mining city: Kimberley. My parents were missionaries and I never lived in one place for more than three and a half years-with exception to my current home. From South Africa to London to New York to Michigan to southern California, I made many friends but few concrete relationships. But now that my parents had promised not to move again until I was out of high school-which was not for four and a half years- I was excited to settle into a real life.

“Good morning class,” my all-too-cheery history teacher, Mrs. Thomas, greeted us with a smile, “I am so excited about our upcoming field trip to our nation’s capital next week!”

“Crap! I haven’t even finished shopping and its next week…” I whispered to my best-friend Bethany, trying to cover my instant stress with a laugh.

“It’s gonna be so much fun… I think… I hope nothing goes wrong though. I hate to fly.” Bethany began to worry and I knew she wasn’t going to stop until the subject was changed. Luckily, the class flew by and when the final bell rang we were out of there!
“I’m so glad it’s Friday, Beth, I need to get my shopping done before-“
“…Before those clothes get any more out of style? Seriously. That look is so 3 years ago” Tara scoffed at me.
“C’mon let’s go. Don’t listen to her. She is such a beotch and thinks she knows everything. Just ‘cuz her dad is some big deal lawyer and makes bank….” Beth pulled me away from stupid Tara and kept rambling on.
“I could have so taken her. I wish she would just disappear from the face of the earth!”
A bit stunned Beth replied, “uh, um… okay? Can we just hit the mall now? I saw the cutest pair of jeans that definitely have your name all over them.”
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“Please, please” I begged, tears streaming down my face, “I don’t know what happened. I need to speak to someone, anyone that can do anything! The president, vice president, the president’s wife even- I don’t know- I’m just scared and confused and… and…”

The security guard looked at me with no compassion, as though I were speaking another language, or crazy. His forehead creased, pulling his eyebrows down, he frowned and responded, “okay, well good luck with that… I’m not sure why you are telling me.”

“Aren’t you a police officer?” I whispered through my sniffling and tears.

“Ha! A police officer? No. Darling, you must not be from around here, there haven’t been ‘police’ in almost 18 years. Where you from anyways?” the man answered.

Even more confused I replied, “ California… I have the strangest feeling - and I’m not crazy – that something happened in the plane. When I left the airport it was April of 2010. And there was plenty of police and guards. So tell me, what is going on?”

The strange man just stared bewildered, looking at me with giant green eyes. Not a word from his lips or an emotion on his face. The image scared me most of all because it looked most like the expression my best friend had while our plane was taking off from LAX. The difference: then I was laughing and saying how silly she was, but now- now I was looking through blurry, teared eyes, not knowing what to say, at a complete stranger, asking for help.
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“I can’t believe we have to be here so early!” my friend Jen complained as she approached Beth and me. “But I’m really excited. I feel like today is going to be a great day, full of excitement.

“You’ve never flown before have you?” I questioned.

“Uhm… no.” Jenn said with a sheepish smile.

“Let’s go. Get on the bus everybody! Got to get to the airport in time to get to our flight!” our principle decided he was going to come along and made every announcement with a bullhorn.
Once we were all in the plane, it became evident who had flown before and who had not. Of the 86 students, no more than half knew what to do. I sat in the aisle seat, letting Beth have the window seat. This way I could sit across the aisle from Bryce Smith, a tall, tan, blonde-haired boy who was easily the best football player in the 8th grade. He had just broken up with Sara Huckabey. She was awkward, large, and chubby, like a potato fresh from the dirt. Every other girl was waiting in line, flirting with him when Sara wasn’t around. Foolish, I see it, yet I cant say I don’t love his dazzling eyes, perfect hair, and gorgeous smile. So how lucky am I that his ticket is for the seat across the aisle from me.
“God has a plan here.” I joked to Beth, which she only rolled her eyes at, too preoccupied on being in an airplane to care about the perfect specimen sitting just less than 7 feet from me.
Just then the pilot came on over the speaker welcoming us to the plane and the flight attendants gave us the speech I had heard way too many times. “Please fasten your seat belt… the emergency exits… pull this to inflate that…” and when they finally sat down we pulled out from the gate and rolled toward the runway.

“Oh my god, oh my god Kim. I want to get off. What if something happens? I have a bad feeling about this…” Bethany wigged out.
“Breathe, breathe… NOTHING is going to happen except this plane taking us to Washington D.C. okay?” I tried to soothe her, but just my luck the plane began rolling faster and faster, then … lift off. Altogether Beth calmed down and was more cheerful. Leaning over to Bryce I whispered, “you okay? That seemed to be a pretty effortless take off”
“Yeah, sure. I don’t know, I’ve never been on a plane before. But don’t tell anyone…. ‘kay?” Was Bryce really asking me to keep his secret? Gleefully I agreed and turned in my seat and tried to fall asleep, but to no success. So I took out my little pink ipod and listen to my favorite play-list.
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“Mr. President, you have to listen to me. I have my plane ticket as proof. My school i.d. card, passport, and cell phone: nothing works or is of value here. Please, there has to be some secret group that can find my friends and get us safely home.” I tried to convince him.
“Well, you can talk to Bob I suppose. If there’s anything that can be done, he will help.”
He makes a call and sends me off with a Secret Service agent. “I thought they didn’t have police or guards anymore… huh, I guess only the president,” I thought to myself. Upon arriving at “Bob’s”, I was surprised to see a familiar face. It was none other than the stranger I had met earlier- who had told me there were no more police. I was confused because he had said he couldn’t do anything, but now I was being told he can? I wasn’t going to find out without asking.
“Excuse me, Bob?… the President referred you to me.”
“Well I’ll be… you got in to see the president did ya. Yeah, I remember you…”
“Look you said before that you couldn’t help, but clearly you can do something…or why else would the president recommend you?”
“ Alright, alright kid, come on in and let’s see what I can do.”
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“Ladies and gentlemen, we will be experiencing slight turbulence shortly, so if everyone could make their way into their seats and fasten their seat belt- as you see the seat belt light come on- we will arrive at our destination in about 57 minutes. Thank you.” The pilot chimed over the intercom.
I noticed that even the flight attendants were securing their carts and taking a seat; I knew this would be a little more than slight turbulence. I looked comfortingly to Beth who was nervously fumbling to fasten her seat belt.
“It’s just a little turbulence. Nothing to worry about Beth,” I said with a smile.
“Then what is that? It looks like we are flying into it!”
Around the plane, in every row, someone was questioning what the enormous storm cloud- looking thing was that we were headed straight into. Some guessed a tornado, but they wouldn’t fly us through that would they? Others said it was most likely just a large thunder-cloud, but nothing seemed right. Did the pilots even see it? What was happening? The plane began to shake ever so slightly, gaining speed, as it seemed to get sucked into this “cloud”. The closer we got to the cloud, the more ferocious the turbulence became.
The air grew thick with tension as the light slipped away. Had the passengers on this plane become the cast of a poorly written horror movie? Out the window, the clouds- or whatever they were- enveloped the plane and shook it. There was lightning everywhere, streaks of white, purple, and orange lighting the sky. This was definitely not a normal storm; I kept trying to wake myself up from a nightmare- but I wasn’t asleep. This was really happening.
The next thing I knew our plane was hit by three strikes of lightning: a white, a purple, and an orange. What happened after that was indescribable. I couldn’t explain it even if I had the slightest understanding. Just a brightness all around, the plane flipping and tossing around, and then- as if nothing had happened- clear sky and zero turbulence. This sky, however, was different. Clear, yes, but the ‘bright blue’ was missing. A perfectly clear grey-blue sky created the clarity, but lacked the color of a normal sky. I wondered if the mysterious cloud had done something, altered and tampered with whether, but before I could get too far I noticed something out the window caught my attention. I looked down and saw no roads, more trees, weird houses, tall buildings, and everything fashioned in a style unknown to me. The houses and buildings all had large, flat roofs, with lights around the edges.
“Look! Look! Kim, jetpacks… and flying cars… and mini airplane looking things”
Beth, suddenly excited, pointed out.
“How are we going to land? There are no streets and I don’t see an airport.” I wondered aloud. But as if in response to my question, the plane began to descend.
“Please sit and buckle up” the pilot announced, “ I will be making an immediate landing that my get a bit rough so please stay buckled until the overhead light turns off.”

With mass panic, all the passengers were in their seats in under a minute. The plane sunk toward the ground, aimed at a small park surrounded by huge trees. Despite a rough landing, just as the pilot had warned, all the passengers survived the crash.

“You okay, Kimberley?” Bryce asked, sincerely concerned about my condition after the crash.

“Probably gonna have some bruises later, but alright as of now. Thanks,” I responded with a smile- forgetting that we had crashed in an unknown time and place, just long enough to appreciate that Bryce cared.
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“So let me see if I have this right: you and a bunch of other 14 year olds were traveling to Washington D.C. when I hit a giant cloud, got struck by some kind of energy or lightning, and now you can’t find anyone or a way home… is that correct?” Bob recalls the information I had given him earlier while we walk to his yard. We go into a small garden shed (or what people in 2010 would consider a garden shed) and through a door in the floor descend down a ladder into another room. This room however, is huge and open and very busy with machines buzzing- machines and inventions I’d never dreamed possible were there in front of my eyes. But there was a reason I had come, and I must stick to it.
“Yes. Everything is correct. Now that I have given you all this information, will you please tell me what is going on? Where am I, what year is this, and is this still Earth? Because I don’t want to get stuck in another time, but even less so on another planet!” I was starting to get a little angry by the fact no one would answer me.
“Well if you come into my lab I will show you a couple theories I have. Here we are.” Bob, who evidently is a scientist, lead me to a screen that looked very odd. “this is a hallogram projector. I believe you use… the phone? Yes?” I nodded and he continued, “ Well, in 2094 – since you were wondering when you are- we ‘call’ each other on this. But it can also give 3d blue prints of inventions in the making.” Bob glanced at me to verify that I was following all that he said. “There was a test run of a time machine two days ago, the guy didn’t come back until after I saw you after your crash. He was in the skies way above where the normal flying cars and whatnot travel nowadays, but possibly- could it be- it poisoned the air of the past, which is what sent your plane forward in time….”
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When the pilot had given the okay to leave the plane a bunch of students rushed right out, not concerned of air qualities or other things we are not used to in the strange place. 15 minutes after leaving the airplane, I heard a scream and saw that it had come from Courtney, “my… my… boyfriend,” she finally spit out, “ he was standing right next to me. I was holding his hand. And he just vanished into thin air.” She could not speak, too horrified to put anything into words.
Shortly following this event, two more students had vanished as well as four strangers who were also on our plane. By nightfall, a total of ten people had gone missing, vanishing into thin air. They all seemed to have been sitting in window seats of the plane, closest to the cloud perhaps as we flew threw it. Early that night I decided to sneak off, after I found Beth missing and no one remembering her going to sleep that night. Bryce tried to stop me and said it was too dangerous. “What I we all get rescued but you are gone?” he had asked, but ultimately he decided that he was going to join me- if I wasn’t staying, then he was going with me. This- on any other occasion- would have been a dream come true, but for now I just wanted to survive, get people back, and get home. I was scared, confused, and hungry to be honest. I saw a police officer at the edge of the park, I decided that would me a good start and headed toward him.
“Hey Kim, I don’t feel so good. Maybe this isn’t a great idea.” Bryce said with a clear worry coating his words. Just then, he began to fade. Not vanish like others had, but he was fading. I immediately took him back to the plane where people were keeping track of the present and disappeared students. Then I ran as fast as I could toward the security guard; I knew I had little time left to figure this mess out.
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“So if you’re machine is polluting the skies, creating some weird time warp, then can’t you just reverse it so that when we go back through it the mess cleans itself up?” I was pressed for time and I had to make due with what the age of technology had to offer.
“Hmmmm… that could work actually. Give my men about an hr and a half and we will figure out something that can get you and your classmates back home.”
“Some have disappeared. How do we save them?” I thought of Beth and Bryce, along with all the other students who had vanished.
“Then I’ll make sure it can make two stops, make sure you make no mistakes. Go to the time you landed. When everybody was there. Your missing people should come back at that point. Then go home to 2010 from there. Don’t say anything about what you have seen or done to anyone in your time. It could mess up the whole space-time stuff.” With a smile Bob sent me away and got to work. I rushed back to the crash site, only to find 4 people still surviving. One, I was relieved to find out, was Bryce. He smiled a giant grin as he saw me returning and I immediately explained everything to everyone. We figured the dates and times we needed to send ourselves home. We were prepared and very ready to go home.
An hour and a half later Bob arrived with a strange key. He handed it to a teacher and told everyone to follow him. It was the weird thing I had ever seen. I would have been more scared if I hadn’t wanted to go home so badly. We all climbed into this mini-plane like machine. The principle punched in the correct time: the time of the crash landing here. There was a loud humming noise, a jolt, and the next thing anyone knew, we were as the crash cite- right after it happened. I bolted out, Bryce following me, and explained quickly what was going on. Something very odd happened: I turned around and saw all the missing people, sitting in the time machine. Bob was right; thank God that worked! We hopped back into the time machine and took off once more: This time for our homes in 2010.
We arrived within seconds of taking off; life seemed as though it had not changed even the slightest. No one could speak of the adventures we had had, in fear of ruining the future. As for myself, I was just happy to have my best friend back and be in our own time. Adding on to my glee, Bryce Smith asked me to sit with him at lunch! So I may not know what the future will hold in my lifetime, but as for right now, I see clear blue skies and white puffy clouds- and I’m pretty good with that.





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