Surprised to see this? This is the third chapter of that novella I recently posted. You can click on the rest of the chapters here.
For anyone who was interested in this novella, I’m sorry this took so long to post. But rest assured, I’m now almost done with the thing, so you won’t have to worry about me suddenly not posting. A new chapter will be published every other post, regardless of how many likes or comments it gets (although comments and likes are much appreciated!). Also, I changed a few details in the first chapter in order to fix a couple plot holes later on, but besides that, it’s exactly the same.
Oh, and feel free to criticize as harshly as you like.
Chapter 3: 1969
Time traveling is like being thrown into a giant blender for a minute or two and miraculously avoiding the giant spinning blades. The word disorientating is taken to a whole new meaning.
When the three of us landed in 1969, we spent the next couple minutes clutching the ground for dear life, and then another five or six minutes staggering about until we could keep balance. My head was still throbbing from the car accident and it felt like something sharp was inside my ear, trying to stab it’s way out, but the feeling seemed to be fading. A possible effect of time traveling.
Jake appeared to be in a lot less pain than me, and a lot less confused than Chloe. Most people would ask, “Where are we?” or “What just happened?” in this situation. But he just looked down at the ground and smiled. “Hey look, a quarter,” he picked up the coin and started tossing it around.
“Where are we?” asked Chloe.
“Oh, yeah. Good question,” said Jake. “Hey Josh, where are we? And what was that whole thing with Arnold Schwarzenator about?”
I looked at the wrist guard. The device strapped to it looked like an average touchscreen phone, and on the screen was the date labeled, “July 20th, 1969.” I read it out loud.
“Ha, 69,” Jake giggled. We just ignored him.
“I don’t understand. Are we in a different place? Or is this just Sterling Park before it was made?” asked Chloe.
You’d think we’d have reacted a little differently after traveling through time our first time, but we were surprisingly okay with it. Besides, spending paragraphs dealing with the characters’ disbelief is just boring.
I was 74% sure that the device was just a futuristic cellphone hooked up to some type of wires connected underneath the padding of the wrist-guard. I typed in Google maps, not expecting much, but found myself looking at a map of Sterling Park.
“Apparently, Sterling Park wasn’t built until 1975. Neither was our whole neighborhood.”
“Can’t we zap back to the future?” asked Chloe. “I mean, this is really cool and everything—I feel like I should be a lot more excited right now—but I just want to go back home.”
I typed the date we were just in on the wrist guard, but instead of being transported in time, the words “Device recharging,” flashed on the screen.
“I guess we’re stuck here for a while.” I said.
Chloe, who was looking over my shoulder, said, “Wait, if this device is from the future, can’t we look up things that happen later on?”
“I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t want to know anything else about this horrible future of ours,” said Jake. “Any future where windows vista is still used is clearly a bad one.”
“Fine, we’ll just look up what happens today,” I said, googling “fun facts about July 20th, 1969,” and read it aloud.
“Today’s the day of the staged moon landing. It’s also the day Richard Nixon was abducted and replaced by shape shifting aliens. Oh, and Josh Holloway was born today.”
“I love that guy!” said Chloe.
“His abs are amazing!” said Jake.
“Okay,” I said. “So not much happens today.”
“I say we should take a look around,” said Jake. “Besides, I heard people were much friendlier back then—now. And the coins are cool.” he tossed me the quarter and I looked at it, wondering where it would be forty-four years later.
Ten minutes later we were on a main road, walking to nowhere in particular.
Chloe and I were on one side; Jake was on the other.
“What’s wrong with you, Jake?” yelled Chloe as a fuel inefficient truck drove by.
“They made fun of my clothes,” he said indignantly, as if that completely justified the whole thing. We had managed to hitch a ride with a couple of 60’s teenagers, who understandably made fun of Jake’s clothes. Jake was wearing sagging pants, and a stupid straight-edged hat for a minor league baseball team that probably didn’t exist yet. The jeans had purposely cut holes in them around the knees.
“Of course they made fun of your clothes!” she yelled. I smiled. “They look stupid even by today’s standards!” After they had made fun of his clothed and called him a ditz (whatever that means), Jake got pissed off and insulted them with a series of post twenty-first century slangs that would make absolutely no sense to someone from ‘69. They kicked us out.
After walking for a little while longer, we stopped by a deli. It was weird to see all the payphones outside. “I think I recognize this place,” said Chloe. “This is Bill’s Deli.”
Bill’s Deli was a popular deli (though it had grown into a restaurant now, though kept the same name I guess) that was mentioned on the Travel Channel and was one of the most popular restaurants nearby.
We made Jack stay outside.
“Nothing personal,” I said, “it’s just that you look like an idiot,” and we walked in.
There were two people working there, but they were all focused on the TV, which was just about to show the moon landing. They took no notice of us, which was great since we weren’t planning on buying anything. All I had was the quarter Jake found, which he gave me as compensation for getting us kicked out of the car earlier, and I sort of wanted to keep it, considering it was old even in ‘69. Besides, the TV was more interesting; the people behind the counter’s reactions were even more fun to watch.
Just as Neil Armstrong took his very first step, the TV exploded.
Well, it didn’t explode, so much as someone shot it with a very big gun.
I turned around to see a bunch of twenty-something men and women in special armor, each with the same wristguard on their arms as mine.
The people behind the counter, one old man and a kid looking a few years younger than me, ducked behind the counter as the door blasted open.
“Are you Joshua Blitz?” asked the first guy; the oldest man on the team who appeared to be in charge. “Oh, who am I kidding, of course you are.”
“Who are you?” I asked. Behind him in the parking lot, Jake was being thrown down to the ground and handcuffed.
“We are the TTPD,” he said. “Time Travel Police Department. When people mess with the fabric of space and time, we stop them before they did it.”
“Why not stop us earlier then? And we haven’t messed with the fabric of space and time.” I looked around at Chloe for some confirmation, but she was nowhere to be found. I’d forgotten about her once the TV was shot.
“You’re going to.” I looked at his uniform. It was all black, and his belt was filled with all sorts of dangerous futuristic gadgets. His badge said. “L. Smith.”
Okay, I thought. They’re some type of time-traveling policemen from the future. That makes sense. Still, all they’d want is to take away the wrist-guard bring us back to the present and we’ll be fine, right?
“What’s going on here?” asked the guy behind the counter. The middle aged man had an old-fashioned deli uniform on, complete with a fancy bow-tie and a name tag labeled Will, probably short for Bill. Chances are, this was the founder of the deli, and would end up building it up to be one of the most popular restaurants in area. I was looking at history in the making.
L. Smith took one look at Will, and shot him with the gun in his hand. Will collapsed onto the counter-top, twitching. Smith didn’t even hesitate before pulling the trigger.
“The hell was that for!?”
“If it weren’t for you, I never would have had to kill him. Had that man lived, he would have talked. It would cause too many paradoxes.”
“And killing him wouldn’t?” yelled Chloe. I spun around to find Chloe with a bulky old gun in her hands. The kid behind the counter, who was too busy sobbing over his dead dad, hid near the exit. I thought I heard sirens in the distance.
“How’d you get the gun?” I asked, unable to help myself.
“It’s 1969 in rural upstate New York where there’s barely any gun restrictions. Everyone has one. Jeremy let me borrow it for the time being. Now,” she steadied the gun at the man’s face. I saw her face tremble for half a second, then back to normal. “Why do you really want to kill us?”
He gave her a puzzled look. So did I. “We don’t want to kill you. We’re police sent here to make sure you don’t cause any more damage to time.”
“How much damage could we have caused by now?” I asked. We had only been here for barely twenty minutes. “All the major damage has been caused by you.”
“Lyndsey, read them out the biggest consequences of their actions thus far.”
A small but tough looking woman stepped up, reading from her wrist guard everything that had happened because of us. “Well, thanks to you, Al Gore never became president. Oh, and you caused Circuit City to go bankrupt. And Spiderman 3 was a huge disappointment.”
“That’s why you shouldn’t be allowed to time travel.” Smith said. “And why you’re under arrest.”
“You’re lying,” said Chloe. “If you were really the police, you would not have just casually shot that man. No good policeman does that, even when there’s no paradoxes involved. All we’ve done is simply walk to this deli. You’ve been here for like, two minutes and you’ve already killed a man—and I’m pretty sure you caused a lot of paradoxes with that.”
“If he didn’t die today, he would have died in a car accident in a couple months. That’s what’s supposed to happen,” he said. “If he survived this, maybe he would not have done what he did and he would have lived.”
“That’s a good thing, right?” I asked.
“No, it will cause a chain reaction that could change the future. Or present. It’s complicated.”
“What about this kid?” Asked Chloe, gesturing with her head back to the thirteen-ish year old kid, whose name was apparently Jeremy,
“He’s supposed to die in the car accident as well.”
“Are you just making this up?”
She scoffed. “Josh, look up Jeremy (what was your last name?). Jeremy Bentham.
I did. This time some contradictory results popped up. I read the results out loud. “He lives until he disappears in a plane crash sometime in 2004.” I quickly did the math in my head. “He lives for another thirty-five years!”
“Not anymore, since you just told him what’s going to happen to him!” He yelled. “You killed him. Not me.” The sound of sirens seemed louder now.
I backed up closer to Chloe. Meanwhile Jake was screaming “Fire!” for some reason, and trying to break free of the handcuffs while two of Smith’s men held him down.
L. Smith moved towards the door but Chloe cocked the thingy with the gun. She didn’t shoot, but the noise seemed to remind him that someone was pointing a gun at him. Smith looked at her and smiled. “You won’t shoot.”
“I don’t have to.”
One of the “officers” looked down the street nervously. “Smith!?”
“What?” He turned around impatiently as two 1960’s style police cars drove into the parking lot. At this point Chloe grabbed my arm, and the two of us silently snuck out the back door.