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A Century Behind

By , Pittsburgh, PA
My brother Louis and I were walking home from the school house when our neighbor came running to us. He had a wild look in his eyes, and something seemed to be wrong, because our usually quiet town all of a sudden erupted into madness. There were people running from people’s houses into another; there was a group of men gathered outside of the blacksmith’s shop; and the livestock were roaming into the village square without any guidance. This was very unusual for our town that we lived in; it was known for its order and serenity.

But today was not the case. Our neighbor came up to us and almost knocked me over. He told us quickly that there was a rumor that his sister Maria had been found a little after lunch time today. She was missing for over a month. It was absolutely horrible. He last saw her looking at the edge of town, towards the barbed wire fence. After two weeks, I guess someone finally caught sight of her. My brother and I gasped with surprise. How did they find her? And how did she even get lost in a town like this? Nobody ever dared to venture to the outskirts of town because nobody knew what was beyond that fence. There were a bunch of trees, and that’s all. And whenever someone did go to the fence, they would come back to town talking about eyes following them. They described it as if there were people standing there against the forest looking into our town. We always knew those people were mad. The townspeople tended to stay away from them as much as possible.

We quickly ran home to our little cabin, that served as a house for our four person family. There was a large room on the first floor that contained a combined kitchen and living room. On the second floor were our bedrooms. It was the year 1907, and we had very few amenities in our small town. There were a few jobs and most kids had to help their parents to raise money for buying food. It came in from an unknown supplier. We had a stream run through the village, also with no known source. It was really weird around here, but we got used to it; after all, we lived here.
As soon as we passed through the door of our house our parents husseled us inside and told us to go upstairs immediately. I wondered why they acted so anxious around us all the time. It must be something with Maria’s disappearance.

So, I went upstairs to my room. I looked outside and over the hills towards the fence. I could barely see it, but there stood a group of men there talking with concern in their faces. Then suddenly, I heard this loud noise, and a whirring sound that got louder and louder. A huge vehicle was flying in the air! Everyone in town started to scream and I ran down the stairs, and my parents took me and my brother into their arms and held us tight.

What was that thing?, I kept thinking. There was a spotlight waving around the town, as if it were searching for something. When that flying thing went away, I slowly asked my parents what it was. They said that it was a flying machine that was searching for Maria. We had never seen anything like it, and it scared me so much. What was going on?

Because of that incident in the afternoon, the town remained frantic and stressed out. I stopped my brother in the street and asked him to take me to the barbed wire fence. We walked towards them, and as we did, a group of dogs came barking. I had never seen dogs on the other side of the fence. If there were dogs, then there must be humans that owned them. I asked my brother to lift me over the fence and I hopped over. I was on the other side. I was shocked that I actually crossed the border. My eyes were wide open, engulfing every little detail of this unknown territory.

It was so different, looking at my town, not looking from my town. It was a shabby old place with about a maximum of about fifty people. I started to run from the fence, to investigate and discover this new place. My brother started yelling for me to come back, but I didn’t. The last thing I saw before my brother ran towards the town screaming his head off was a bright white light.
Two men grabbed me and pulled me into this bright room that was lighted with these bulbs of some sort that produced light. It was so weird. They were dressed in black and had boxes that they spoke into. I started to scream and cry. I wanted to return to my brother. I never should have run away from the fence, in fact, I never should have crossed it.

They tied me to a chair and left me there for at least an hour. I was so scared. What was going to happen to me? Would my brother save me? Then suddenly, the door slid open and in came a tall girl with a bonnet on her head. It was Maria! She ran up to me asking me a billion questions and I couldn’t even open my mouth; I was so relieved. She said we don’t have much time, and she untied me. I asked her what was going on, and she said she would explain it to me when we got out.

I learned that there was no way back to our town, except from the “main entrance”. I had no idea what Maria was talking about, but I just followed her. While we were going through long passage ways that led to nowhere, Maria filled me in on the events that I had missed out on. We were in the secret hallways of a museum. This museum was for the public to learn what it was like to live during the 1900s. I was so confused. But Maria continued: Our little “town” was actually the museum, with the fence as the walls of the one way window that people looked through. That’s why there were eyes following and staring at the people who did go to the edge of the fence. She said that the flying machine was a helicopter that flew over the town, searching for her. The men in black suits needed to make sure everyone in the town never had a clue of what was really going on so it could look as real as possible. I didn’t fully understand what was happening, but I started to have a funny feeling about all of this. This was all wrong, all wrong. Trucks that stocked the grocery store every night- nobody knew that either. There were so many things out in the real world that Maria saw when she escaped that were not in our town. She said there were color televisions, automobiles, huge buildings, and everyone dressed so differently. I couldn’t comprehend one word she said, so I left it at that. So, what happened? Were we essentially living in a museum, stocked with people, and we were looked at for the people’s entertainment? Then it all clicked. We were a century behind the real times, and we had no idea about it. It was all a plan to lock up a bunch of people and force them to live like in the 1900s, without the amenities of the modern world.

We finally got to the main entrance. There was a long line of people that were talking all at once. I was appalled. There were women in pants and everything was so different here. It didn’t make sense. People were looking at us and smiling at us, even smirking. I started to get paranoid. Finally, Maria took my hand and we stepped up to the ticket booth. I bought a ticket with the money Maria stole some time ago. We walked up to the glass and I stared into the town. My town. I looked into the world of innocent people, kept away from society to be part of a little business venture. I couldn’t believe it. We were a century behind.





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