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No one expected it to happen so quickly, estimation suggested it wouldn’t happen for another 6 billion years. I know that guess was wrong, as well as many teenagers of this new era. That year had started pretty rough; earthquakes had smashed California and the Eastern countries. America became the world’s largest populated continent. None of us really took any notice, worrying about their relationships, school, jobs, etc, etc. The world news focused less and less on the Eastern countries and more and more on the growing fame of the rich and famous.
The day showed up, sunny. My friends and I planned a big beach party, inviting only the most popular girls and boys. Jocks and cheerleaders, mostly girls who gossiped all day. I conference all the hosts in on my Zu-Zu, planning the meeting place.
Man made technology probably grew the most over the years since the I-phone. Only losers held onto anything our ancestors thought were cool. Zu-Zu’s were where it was at, at least, at the moment. It was similar to that of the past I-phone, but was stamped on your wrist, long lasting till you paid a fine penny to get it removed. I’d had mine a week. The skin around it had turned bright pink and I could feel the heat pulsing from the inflamed skin. I shrugged at the memory, only one of the side-affects to getting the Zu-Zu. I felt lucky to have suffered only that. I didn’t really notice it anymore.
Having confirmed the time and place, I began packing my Zip-car with everything I needed to look especially great. Had to look great at a party like this, especially when pictures would be added to my Link-Zone. Link-Zone was a combination between MySpace and Facebook, but ten time’s way cooler. People had to buy your attention, if you were cool enough. My life was wrapped around my Link-Zone.
Once packed, I entered in the coordinates for Andy’s house. I was picking up some of the party planners on my way their, being one of three of us that had a Zip-car. I sat back and tuned my Zu-Zu to my Link-Zone. My avatar, a cartoon version of myself, popped up, welcoming me back. She informed me I had 17 messages and 7 requests. I clicked into the requests and accepted four of them. The other three were wannabe losers, wanting me to buy into their zone, so I ignored their pleas for friendship. I entered my messages. The first ten were from distant family members; cousins, aunts, and uncles I barely kept in touch with anymore. I’d write back tomorrow. The next five were messages from jocks and cheerleaders confirming that they’d be at tonight’s bash.
The last two were spam. From a loser spouting nonsense about the world coming to an end and how the government was covering everything up. I sent them to my trash box, to hopefully never be heard of again. I clicked off, just as my Zip-car pulled up into Andy’s yard. He sauntered to the passenger side. I confirmed with the settings on the car that he could enter. Upon doing an eye-laser test, Andy was let in. Standard protocol for the Zip-car settings.
Our greeting was brief, a hello and how’s it going. Then the settings were set for the next pick-up and the Zip-car took off.
Having grabbed all the others I was told to pick up, we zipped along the Zip-car line towards Annie Harbor Beach. The boys laughed and gossiped about the girls that would be there. Betting who could kiss the most in the night’s time. The girl’s giggled at the boy’s conversation, stating they wouldn’t fall for their tricks. People weren’t afraid to say what they thought, shyness a thing of the past or a thing for losers. My Zip-car held ten of us, including me eleven. Five of the other was girls, five were boys. I tried to pay attention to the Zip-car line instead of the growing heated conversations in back.
Andy kept glancing towards the front, a silence had fallen upon him. He excused himself in back and crawled to the front. He sat in the second available seat.
“What’s down Aaliyah? You’ve haven’t said anything the entire ride,” he asked, a worried look came onto his face. His eyes were blue and his hair was dark brown. He played soccer. Not a lot of people played sports anymore, more exciting things were in now. When we called people jocks, it usually meant they played Link-Zone games. They were virtual and just as physical. But Andy was a real jock, he liked the old school sports. It kept him tanned from the practices and games.
“Yeah, just excited for the party,” I said, I was excited for the party but those messages kept coming back into my head. That loser had crept in and planted a seed of fear into my brain. Hopefully, Andy wouldn’t see that fear.
“Ok, catch you later then,” Andy smiled, feeling relieved at my fake excitement. I was surprised he let it go so easily. He crawled back to the others, beginning to enjoy the conversation. I smiled at the easiness they had.
Finally, the beach came into view. I sighed at the sight and turned in my seat. Everyone was already staring, mesmerized out the tiny Zip-car windows. The boys grew anxious, the girls seemed in a bubbly state of mind. The Zip-car pulled up to two familiar Zip-cars and proceeded to open the Zip-car doors. Everyone was rushing to the already started bonfire at an enclosed section of the beach. Music pounded from Zu-Zu’s and, more primitive, I-pods.
I pressed the release button on the front Zip-car door and jumped out. I pressed the lock button on the outside and proceeded to punch in the combination of numbers for the lock sequence. Zip-cars came without keys, only touch combination locks. The Link-Zone ad had been very convincing, saying it was a better, more convenient car to have.
I walk towards the growing fire, the sound of the waves swishing on the sand calms me. The others are long gone, lost in the crowd and the music. I can feel the warmth from the fire, even at 20 feet away. The warmth caresses my bare legs and raises goose bumps. I walk even closer until the warmth is unbearable. I throw off my dress, revealing myself in my two piece suit. I jump into the untainted ocean. I jump up immediately surprised by the sudden cold.
I notice several others doing the same thing, but they get immediately out. I shiver in the cold water until my body adjusts to the cold. I dive under and push myself to the soft sand below. I let myself drift awhile longer before rushing to the top, bursting out gasping for air.
I jump out and grab an awaiting towel. I dry myself off quickly and finally without any fear I let myself loose to enjoy the coming party.
The only thing is the party ends shortly after I get comfortable. The earth beneath begins to shake and the waves become more violent. Several girls scream and rush for the three awaiting Zip-cars. The boys are close following, protecting the girls from any danger. Several people call out my name, and I realize I’m not moving. I rush to my Zip-car. My movements feel like a dream as I try to run fast but there’s a watery feeling, like I’m being pulled the opposite direction.
I finally reach the awaiting people surrounding my Zip-car. I punch the unlock combination and everyone rushes in finding a place to sit. A siren goes off in the Zip-car when I turn it on. Immediately a message pops up both the Zip-cars gps screen and all the Zu-Zu’s in the car.
“All passengers do not panic. The nation is under immediate stress due to the sudden change in weather. All Zip-cars and upgraded gps systems in vehicles will immediately be sent to the nearest safe center. Upon arriving, help all passengers reach the inside of the center safely. Follow further directions once safely inside,” a man in a military suit, finishes and immediately disappears. The Zip-car lurches forward, the coordinates reading out on the screen.
Everyone is scared. Everyone is scared they ma die. Suddenly I remember why I was so scared before and wonder if the crazy man was ok. He was right, at least about the weather.
An hour later, we arrive at the safe center. Without my code the Zip-car doors open immediately and allow everyone to leave. My Zu-Zu rings with several tones meaning several people were trying to reach me. I answer the first three on a conference and explain where I am. My mother, father, and older brother hang up, scared for themselves and for me. The next are several friends who ignore and will message back later. The last is coming from the safe center inside.
“Yes?” I ask, confused why they’d be calling me when I’m right outside.
“Aaliyah Randall’s? You are safe to leave your Zip-car and follow your fellow friends inside. Upon leaving the Zip-car, it will lock automatically and will not re-open until the combinations have been reset. Come inside for further instruction,” a nasally voice says then hangs up.
Without hesitation I rush inside. I find Andy waiting at the doors, struggling against guards. I can hear him arguing that a girl is out there, in a Zip-car. One of the guards reassures him that I’ll be coming; a message was played to all Zip-car owners before they came in. Andy looks in my direction and breaks free. He rushes towards me and scoops me up, hugging me close.
“Ah, glad to see you too, Andy. Can you please let me down?” I ask. I can feel the heat rising to my face at the sudden affection. Andy immediately places me on the ground and turns, red faced, away from me.
“Sorry, I was worried when I couldn’t find you. Come on, let’s find the others,” he says turning towards the inside of the center. Another ripple causes us to trip and fall. We struggle to gain our footing as several quakes happen at ounce. Amazingly the buildings held up. We finally manage to reach our group of 36 and find a seat in the cramped room for our group. Andy sits next to me, staring at me out of his peripheral vision. I ignore his worried glances.
Everyone panics, unable to understand the sudden attack of weather on our nation. I stare at the floor, wondering again if anything else that crazy said was true. I didn’t care to look, afraid of what I might find. A uniformed man walks into the room, and pulls out a checklist. He begins reading the names off the paper. I barely listen, until I feel looks on my face. I stare up and look around the room, everyone staring, expectant looks.
“What?” I ask confused. Did I miss something?
“Aaliyah Randall’s?” The uniformed man asks, annoyingly.
“Yes?” I ask. He shakes his head and marks the paper. I look over at Andy whose staring blankly into space. I touch his arm gently and he turns towards me. He smiles a weary smile, panic and worry stamped into his blue eyes. I can’t help but feel guilty. I haven’t once thought about my family since they called. I look down at my Zu-Zu and notice that it’s gone dark, no virtual lettering or numbers to tell me the date or time.
I stand and walk towards the open doors, and find the uniformed man stationed outside. His face is blank, trained to look worried or panicked, so as not to scare the civilians. But I could see the worry in his eyes. Somewhere he probably had a wife and children, unprotected. He could have parents in a nursing home worrying about his safety. Suddenly, I sympathized with a man I barely knew.
“Yes, may I help you?” he asked his eyes now intense and annoyed at my interruption of his worries.
“I’m sorry, but I was wondering why my Zu-Zu wouldn’t work,” at his blank stare, I showed him my wrist, “It won’t turn on.”
“Lines have crashed down, and electric companies were evacuated. Because of the evacuation only emergency lines are still up and running. And even they aren’t very reliable. We ask you all to refrain from trying to contact anyone on the outside until it is deemed safe,” he said. I could feel his sympathy in his words. I wondered if he was able to contact his family. Probably not, at his increased self worry.
“Thank you,” was all I could say. I walked back and found Andy had usable Zu-Zu wifi.
“Andy? How come yours works? Mines completely dead and the lines are supposed to be down,” I told him. I could feel my eyebrows touch at the confusion.
“Shhhh. Come here,” I walked over and in hurried whispers he said, “I hacked into the emergency lines. Just to see what’s going on outside. Except for the safe centers, everything was destroyed. The quakes brought everything down; the roads are cracked from the quakes. When we walk out of here, we won’t be walking back to the world we knew. I’m lucky I was able to get into the line, even that isn’t very powerful.”
And as if on cue, the Zu-Zu shut down and the lights and heat shut off. I could feel the panic of the others all over the room. People began to shove and push. I could feel claustrophobia taking over me as I fought against the others to find a more open space, filled with light.
But because of the dark I didn’t see the kid fall down, getting trampled. He grabbed my leg and I came tumbling down. The last thing I remember was foot come stomping down on my face, before darkness covered my world.