They Yelled, Run! Run! | Teen Ink

They Yelled, Run! Run!

October 10, 2019
By laurengarcia BRONZE, Torrance, California
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laurengarcia BRONZE, Torrance, California
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Author's note:

I just hope people who read this story will enjoy it!

I knew that Mr. Radley was telling the class to do something (“What you’re going to do after I’m done talking is grab a camera. . .” he explained) and I knew that that something was to take pictures of a vacant lot for some strange reason (he kept explaining like they’d never taken pictures before: “--and try to take pictures that are unique and different from everyone else’s!”). When I heard the scraping of chairs, signaling that everyone was getting up, I was jerked out of my daydream, forced to come back to earth. Sighing, I stood up and grabbed a camera, walking outside to face the sun. The sun on my face felt as comforting as getting into my warm bed during a freezing night. As I walked along side my teacher and classmates, I adjusted my camera to my liking while focusing on not tripping over thin air and breaking the expensive camera. My classmates talked amongst themselves.
            Heather James was gossiping, “Did you hear that Denise broke up with Noah? Yeah, apparently he cheated. . .”

“I totally flunked that calculus test, man! My mom’s going to kill me!” complained Ryan 

Koracick, who was on the football team.

And one of the most well-known couples in the school, Tommy Ross and Sue Snell, were taking pictures of each other, laughing as if they were doing something illegal.
            A couple minutes passed before we reached the lot, and by this point, the sun was feeling boiling hot instead of warm. Through my camera, I looked around the lot and at my classmates, who were already clicking away. Then something brushed against my foot, startling me. I looked down at the ground. The first thing I saw was a tiny lizard, just waiting there, as if posing for me. I began to put pressure on the button that would take the picture, but before I could press it down fully, the lizard suddenly took off running. Determined to photograph it, I lowered my camera and followed it, glad that there was nothing it could hide under or escape through. As I chased it, I passed a small object that glittered prettily, and I was certain it hadn’t been there just moments before. Remembering the lizard, I turned to look for it, but it was nowhere to be found. Cursing under my breath, I put my attention back on the glittering object. I knelt down to examine the object and saw that it was a compass, but it didn’t have north, east, south, and west on it. Instead, in fancy cursive, it had Past, Present, and Future. I smiled slightly, as it dimly reminded me of A Christmas Carol.

I picked up the compass and examined it curiously, believing that it was a children’s 

toy or something similar. What was also strange about it was that it had a dial in the place of the needle. Forgetting all about the assignment I had to do, I grabbed the dial between my thumb and forefinger and turned it to Past. Immediately, everything became pitch black, and it felt like I was freefalling through the air. I was on the verge of screaming when I could see again. I was on the ground, but I was definitely not in the vacant lot. With wide eyes, I did a 360 to see exactly where I was now. It looked like an ancient city, like one from my history textbook. There were men and women and children wearing. . . what was the word? Tunics! They were wearing tunics. There were a few people who wore clothes that showed that they were more important, or richer than the rest. Men in togas, women in tunics that reached their ankles! The material they were made from differed too. They were all walking around, talking in a language, whose name was on the tip of my tongue, and shopping. None of them appeared to notice me pop up out of nowhere.

My first clear, non-panicked thought was, Nobody is going to believe this! I think I’m in ancient Rome or Greece! I realized that I was squeezing the compass as if it was tethering me to life. It was a time machine of some sort, apparently. Slowly, I grabbed my camera, ready to take a picture of this place, so I could prove to everyone back home that I had time travelled. Before I could, however, the ground started shaking, making me stumble and drop my camera. Luckily, I had the strap around my neck, keeping it from hitting the ground and breaking. The people began to scream and run away from me. No, not running away from me. They were running away from something that was happening behind me. They were speaking in what I now recognized as Latin:

“Curre! Curre!”

Uneasiness filled me, rising and rising in my chest until it felt like I was drowning, struggling to breath. As multiple events that could have happened here and during this time popped into my head, I slowly turned around as the ground shook once again. I didn’t see anything that looked immediately dangerous, and for a moment I relaxed, wanting to take a picture again. However, after the ground shook even harder and for a third time, I noticed that the sky was steadily becoming grey, and then a terrifying black. When I searched for where it was coming from, I then noticed it was coming from the tip of a brown mountain. But. . . that couldn’t be. How could smoke come from a mountain’s peak? And then it hit me. I felt like an idiot for not realizing it sooner. It wasn’t just a mountain. It was a volcano. And not only that, it was a volcano, more specifically Mount Vesuvius, ready to erupt. 

I finally figured out where I was: Pompeii, the ancient city in Rome Pompeii, on the day Mount Vesuvius exploded and buried Pompeii and 2,000 people. Vesuvius’ eruption was one of the most infamous in history, if not the most infamous. Now it made perfect sense why everyone was running. They were about to die a hopefully painless death. A voice in the back of my head asked, why aren’t I running like the rest of these people? For the second time today (could I say today?), I came back to earth. I had to run. Run or be inevitably buried and die. Turning away from Vesuvius, I began to run, my camera bouncing up and down, up and down. I became aware that I was squeezing something to its death in my hand. While running, I opened my hand and looked down at the time travel device. I instantaneously stopped in my tracks. “How could I have forgotten about the stupid time travel device? Idiot!” I said to myself.

My heart racing, making me feel like I was going to pass out, I glanced back at Vesuvius one last time. 

At some point, it had expelled rocks covered in magma, which were flying in every direction, including in the city’s direction. A small part of me wanted to stay, to somehow save everyone here, but the smarter part of me knew that that wasn’t achievable. I couldn’t mess with history. Who knew how the future would change if I did? I flinched as a magma-covered rock crashed into several houses nearby. The screams and the cries, if possible, got louder, and more scared. There were tears in my eyes as I grabbed the dial with shaking hands and turned it to Present. As everything went dark again, the air around me vibrated as hard as the city ground had shaken. It was so heart-stoppingly scary that I closed my eyes, just wanting to go home and curl up into a ball and do nothing else. When the vibrating stopped, the first thing I did was open my hand and let the compass fall to the ground. Then I opened my eyes. Approaching me was one of my classmates, Isabelle, looking half-worried, half-annoyed. I couldn’t blame her. It probably looked like I was blatantly ignoring her.

             “Riley, are you okay? I’ve been calling your name for forever. We’re heading back to school now,” she told me once she reached me.
            I managed to say, “Oh. Okay. Yeah, I’m fine. Let’s go. . .” 

 I had a death grip on my camera as we walked back and followed the rest of the class, who were quite a way ahead of us. Isabelle babbled on and on, though I was barely listening, at the people’s screams were still stuck in my mind. Curre, curre! That’s what they had all yelled, terror in their voices, on their faces. What did that mean? I love you? Goodbye? I was tuned in enough to hear Isabelle say, “Oh! And I also had a dream, well, more like a nightmare, that I was in that Roman city, Pompeii, I think was its name, on the day it was buried It was horrible.” My first thought was: I was definitely going to drop out of photography. Back in the classroom, we put our cameras on our desks and sat down as Mr. Radley began explaining what to do next. . .

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