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Stuck in Time This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Nicolette peels back her eyelids, the hum of the almost silent alarm barely keeping her awake. She doesn’t want to sleep, that’s when her memories flicker through her mind taunting her. Her heptonic vibrates  with a faint beep, she droops her arm of the side off the cot barely reaching it to turn it off; she shines it around. The room almost has a foggy feel to it with grey mist surrounding every patch of brightness. She traces her fingers along the dents in the wall. A loud buzz goes off and a slight rumble and her cell door begins inching its way open stopping at the wall. Nicolette stands in front of the mirror, you see the darkness under her eyes from exhaustion, she runs her hand through her blond hair with faded tips of blue. Her ghostly grey eyes staring back at her, she throws on a dark hoodie, with ripped jeans and leaves the cell brushing the buzzer with her thumb to let them know she is out, the iron door creeps shut.
She walks down the long hallway and turns into the creaves, a common walking place, and grabs a muffin then heads to her brothers classroom. She listens in to the teacher talking about how the war ended their life on Earth. Lucas turns and notices his sister, he waves and smiles. Nicolette brushes the tear off her cheek, hoping he didn't notice. Her brother was a baby when it happened only 5 months he'd been taken and handed to Nicolette to take care of so he wasn't really related to her. The couple they took him from was young, he had been their first kid, now they're gone.It had been 6 years since the attack on Earth, but it still hurt her.
          “ Hey, why didn't you say hi this morning, I waved when you got the muffin, it hurt my feelings,” whispered Emma making Nicolette jump.
“ Don't do that, you scared me I thought John caught me, I'm supposed to be in detox.” Exclaimed Nicolette.
“ I know I'm here to get you, why do you always skip it, it's-”
“ I know, I know, it's for my safety. I'm coming. Hold on let me grab my bag.”
        She follows Emma down the hall and into the darkest room in the hall, detox is how they keep their lungs clean from the poison that every planet has, except Earth. Making Earth the best planet to live on but the war changed all of that now they have to clean their lungs daily, if they want to be healthy. Breathe deep she tells herself remembering the first time she did this, she feels a strong  push throughout her lungs stinging as is disinfects them. She always hated that part, why does it burn. Leaving to her next class she turns into the bathroom and open the brown slightly to big stall door and sits. Reaching in her pocket for her heptonic she goes to messages and a text from Howe reads, where are you, you are supposed to be in the kitchen if you are not here in 5 minutes I will report you. This will be your 3rd right up if you get 4 you know what happens wouldn't want that to happen now would we. Tick tick tick. She rushes out of the stall to Howe’s class as quickly as possible. If you don't show up to classes you get wrote up. They have the same schedule everyday all day with a 30 min break everyday. But who can blame her for trying to miss class.
Nicolette sat down beside Chloe her cooking buddy, they always made the desserts for dinner. Today they had been setting up to make chocolate lava cake bites, she always loved how every bite had a oozy center with rich chocolate slivers on top.
“ Thanks for joining us, wha-” A gun shot cuts him off making him jump in his chair, almost hitting his head on the shelf above him.
She thinks of every person she knows who had three write-ups. Who had just met their consequence of the fourth? Was it Haley, the girl who was nice to every teacher no matter what happened; maybe it was John the 11 year old who never smiled. Could it have been Emily, the short girl who put a smile on everyone's face? Oh no she thought, and ran out of the class into the creaves,and around the corner straight to her brothers 3rd class, he wasn't there.She got on her heptonic, frantically  scrolled down to recently lost, there he was; his happy face with bright eyes, smiling without a care in the world. She ran to security and told them she wants her break, they opened her cell, she walked slow holding herself tight, tears rushing down her cheeks. The hallway was a foggy grey with a dim light at the end of the hall, at this point she didn't care if she got wrote up, she didn't care if she reached her 4th write up.
She let curiosity overcome her she walked into the lit room and noticed a chair at the far end of the room on the right hand side, on lay a complete unguarded gun. The gun looked like a short pistol with a wide mouth. She walked to the chair, carefully wrapping her fingers around the leather handle, she switched the gun from hand to hand feeling it.
“Hey you!” A short chubby man was standing 2 feet from the door walking closer and reaching for his taser.
She spun around and the gun went off, he glanced down at his wound, red peered out from the shirt surrounding the hole under his left lung; he fell making a loud thud as his body hit the floor, he laid limp at her feet.
“What have I done?” She said in a hushed tone.
I'm no better than the man who shot lucas, she thought as a tear ran down her cheek, she quickly brushed it away as if someone was watching. Another gun went off, then 2 more. A alarm went off and her cell started to close she grabbed the gun and ran out the cell, the door just missing her foot. She heard far away shrieks and saw three dead guards hunched over their computers by the creaves she held the gun at her side and raced to find Emma, her best friend since the earth attack. As she rushed down every hallway checking all the bodies, making sure she didn’t leave Emma behind. “Over here” She turned and saw a tall man with a pistol like hers beckoning her over. She took a slow step forward watching his gun, his finger near the trigger. She stopped about 2 feet from him and stared into his eyes. They looked familiar, she couldn’t remember where she seen him.
“You...You took our baby boy.” His words sound more and more stern as they escaped his mouth.
He stood up and held the gun to her head.
“Please don't shoot, I was only doing what they told me to do…they killed him.” She finally said, covering her mouth.
The gun went off and her memories flashed through her head, it seemed as they were rushing to be first. Thud. She stared at the tall man lying there by her feet; red soaked the floor around him.
“Nicolette?” A familiar voice whispered.
She spun around glancing at every patch of the walls to see who had said that.
“Did you kill him because of the loss of your brother?” Emma said voice cracking at the end.
“I didn’t kill him, I swear Emma please come out, I’m scared,” She replied.
Emma turned the corner and stared at the gun in Nicolette's hand, then down at the man.
“I know how it looks, that man I believe is Lucas’s father, I told him they killed him when he was about to shoot me.” she paused, “He...killed himself…”
After a long pause, they started towards the exit, they were curious as to how he managed to get on this planet. They would have to have had advanced technology to accomplish getting from earth to planet Agumou. Just as they suspected, there was some kind of hovercraft that looked as if it could only carry two. Emma’s little sister was still in the building. We couldn't leave her. Emma decided to go back in the building screaming her sister's name, then waiting about ten seconds before yelling it again. After about seven times she walked out with Dakota a little girl Lucas’s age with brown hair, and purple eyes that looked as if they'd suck you in if you stared to long. She had red puffy eyes and damp sleeves, she had been crying. That's when she noticed a deep cut in her lower leg just above her foot. Nicolette scooped her up and carried her to the ship. Making sure she didn't bump her leg on anything.
She climbs into the hovercraft/ship and sat down, when Emma got in she tapped on her leg beckoning for Dakota to sit down. When we were settled Nicolette turned the ship on autopilot, and set it for Earth. After a slight rumble of the engine they were soaring through the solar system, something they hadn't seen in six years, it was beautiful the way the stars and planets looked from up here, the way the colors blended just right. After about forty-seven minutes they were landing on Earth, it had not changed at all, the sidewalks still looked new, the roads still had yellow paint, and there was still people. Nicolette wanted to sink back into her chair and disappear but she couldn’t, they needed a doctor and answers.
The people crowded around the hovercraft mouths dropped when they saw who was inside, that's when Nicolette saw her. Her mother, sitting by herself on a worn down bench reading a book, not any book, she was reading Nicolette’s journal. Nicolette slammed the open button and pushed her way through the crowd as fast as she could. Her mom stood up and looked around to see where the screaming was coming from. Nicolette made her way out her mom burst into tears running towards her arms stretched wide open. When they collided into each other, they fell to the ground. She had so many questions to ask and to answer but at that moment nothing else mattered.




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