“The night she left the kingdom, there was a terrible storm. That night, the whole of the village fell silent, watching the storm all night. Even the king, the mightiest person in the kingdom, stopped and stared at the horrible and sudden storm. Everyone was shocked, frightened, even scared.”
The night she left the kingdom, there was a terrible storm. That night, the whole of the village fell silent, watching the storm all night. Even the king, the mightiest person in the kingdom, stopped and stared at the horrible and sudden storm. Everyone was shocked, frightened, even scared. For the village had never seen a storm this violent, rain plummeting from the sky with the size and speed of bullets.
The next day, knights from the kingdom flooded out of the gates and into the little town to see if anyone was hurt by the storm. They found that nobody had been hurt, but one had left. This particular person was a girl, the age of eight. And this eight-year-old girl was indeed the most interesting girl you would ever meet. This little girl, as small as she might have looked, had a deep secret, a secret that no one but she knew. The secret was that she, the little, innocent eight-year-old, might’ve been the king’s great-great-great-great-grandmother, Serena Servedore.
This is the second day in the police department, the fourth time I’ve been questioned, and the billionth time I have said no.
“Can you tell us your name?” the detective said, patiently.
“No.” One billion and one.
“Can you tell us what you were up to in the museum the night the painting was stolen?” the detective said, less patient.
“No.” One billion and two.
“Can you tell us why you are here?”
“You know that already,” I replied.
“Okay, I give up. What is it going to take to get you to speak?” The detective was losing his temper now.
“I am speaking, am I not?” I replied, quite tired now.
“You know what?” The detective got up and took his keys out of the back pocket. He placed the key in the lock and turned it. He left the room, slamming the door shut. I heard the click of the lock, and then I slowly turned to the left to take a look at the security camera.
“Had enough? I know you’re watching,” I said, acting calmly. I have to keep going. They’ll be here any second. “I know what you’re thinking. How did that girl get in so much trouble? I am only ten, aren’t I?” I paused. “Why can’t she tell us anything? Why is she so smart? Why is she so stubborn?” I mocked. I turned around again in my seat, so the camera could see nothing of my face. I waited. My eyes blinked once, twice, three times, until at last I fell asleep.
I woke up to find myself in a chair in a dark room. Much smaller than the one before. This one could fit about two small armchairs from what I could see. A light suddenly clicked on. Its bright, intense light was headed straight to my face.
“What do you want? My name, why I was at the museum the night that painting was stolen, or something different? I am getting rather bored of those questions,” I said, quite bored.
“Boss, can you not even recognize your own first officer?” the voice said.
“Tes?” I asked.
“Who else. Now let’s get out of here before they realize that the hologram of me is a fake,” Tes said, just as we heard a voice.
“Hey, she’s not real!”
“Okay, plan B. Wait, dang it. I forgot to make one! Fine, improvise. Run!”
“I thought I’d told you to always have a plan B!”
“Didn’t I just tell you the plan B?”
“Right now is not the time to argue,” Tes said as she started pushing the doors open and letting the the warm and welcoming spring air into the dusty, thick, dark building.
The light of the sun blinded us so much that she had to cover her eyes with her arm. As the two officers leapt outside, they heard screaming. A few of the kids outside of the police station had started yelling at them to come over.
“At least you brought backup. I thought you hadn’t done anything.”
“I didn’t bring backup. I guess they just tracked me down and came to back me up,” Tes exclaimed.
“So, you’re telling me that you did nothing to support this plan?” I yelled.
“Hey, at least I rescued you from the police. I could have left you there,” Tes argued.
“Point taken,” I stated. “So, are we going to go over there to ‘your backup?’”
“Be quiet,” Tes laughed.
When I arrived at the main base of the headquarters, everyone celebrated my arrival from the police station. It had been so long since I had been at the base that I barely remembered it. Of course, it would only have seemed like two days to everyone else in the room.
“So, what happened there?” someone finally asked.
“Not much. A bit of rain here, a bit of saving the whole world there. As I said, not very much. I also took a quick peek at my great-great-great-great-grandson, the king. Oh — but something did act weird with the time machine. Nothing that bad. I could work it out,” I explained.
“What went wrong?” the head of engineering asked.
“I was a bit younger than usual — ” I started.
“How young?” the director of engineering asked, sweat starting to drip down his forehead from knowing that his machine had malfunctioned.
“Just eight, no problem. I can manage to be two years younger than now,” I reassured. The head engineer got less tense. “It’s funny how time travel works. If you’re gone for even a whole month, others would have spent only a day or two without you. But anyway, I’m back!”
“You did everything according to plan, right? No, like, messing with the timeline? Has anything changed? Actually, no. Don’t tell me,” the still nervous engineer threw at me.
“No changes in the timeline. No messing up. No changes here,” I replied, happy to have been able to finally calm him down.
Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep. Tuesdays suck. I review my to-do list in my head: 5:45 German; 6:15 Review the Time Machine with head engineer; 7:15 Watch duty; 8:45 Meeting with the head judges about the rules of time travel; 9:35 Check on engineering; 10:20 Snack and chess; 10:30 Review essays of what happened without me; 11:15 Math and computer class; 12:15 Lunch and recreation; 1:00 Argue with military tactics about the infinity bombs; 2:00 Check in with the minister of locations and languages; 3:00 give team A a mission; 4:00 give team B a mission; 5:00 give team C a mission; 6:00 go on a mission; 7:00 Dinner; 7:45 relax for the rest of the day.
“Big schedule,” I mumbled to myself, all ready to go to my German class. I quickly grabbed my identification and sign-in cards and left the bunker. Frau Hinrichs started us off with some conversation. We were to have a whole five minute conversation with a partner. I chose Tessel, Tes’ sister.
“Hallo wie bist du?” Hi how are you? I started.
“Mir ist alles gut, und sie?” Everything is fine, and you? Tessel continued.
“Gut. Wurden sie einen keks haben?” Good. Do you want a cookie? I giggled.
“Nein, danke.” No, thank you. Tessel replied. There was an awkward silence of nobody knowing who would speak first or at all what to say. A few seconds passed. “Was hast du eigentlich gemacht im zieht?” What did you actually do in the time? Tessel asked.
“Ich habe meinen — ”
“Time’s up. You can speak English,” Frau Hinrichs said in a very heavy European accent.
“Well then. I visited my great-great-great-great-grandson, and I stopped him from discovering the secret of time travel. I also may have caused the rain in that big storm. But that always happens when you time travel. So all in all, I basically saved the world from utter despair,” I answered. “Wow, how do I make that sound like like it’s not a big deal at all?” I asked myself in a funny sort of way.
“That’s not what I meant. What I meant is, why did you end up in a museum department. People usually end up in the same place that they left. Which is always the roof.”
“Something may have gone wrong with the time machine,” I suggested. Tessel and I tensed up. “We should check in with engineering.”
Tessel and I ran up the escalator from the third floor to the fifth. Huffing and wheezing, we had finally made it to the engineering and mechanical section of the building.
“Identification card please,” an employee asked, looking down at the sign-in sheet. Tessel took her card out and showed it to the young employee. I shoved my hand into my pocket and took hold of my identification card. Tessel was halfway through the metal detector. I showed the card to the boy and went through the metal detectors.
“So, where is Director Zybi?” I mumbled under my breath.
“Found him!” Tessel exclaimed from the other side of the full room.
Pushing through the crowd of people wasn’t easy, but once on the other side of the room, where it was less full of noisy, working people, I could talk to her.
“Where is Director Zybi?” I asked frantically.
“Right here,” a familiar voice answered. I turned around as fast as I could, luckily avoiding getting whiplash.
“We have to talk somewhere more private,” I suggested. Immediately, Director Zybi knew where to go. His feet led the way as I outlined the problem for him. “So when I left to go to the past, I left on the roof, as always. I went into the time machine and got to November twenty-ninth, eighteen twelve.” I paused.
“Yes, proceed,” the director said, calm so far.
“And I followed all the safety precautions. All of them,” I repeated.
“All of them?” Director Zybi asked.
“All of them,” I answered. “Anyway, when I came back here, I arrived at a museum.”
“A museum? Oh no.”
“What?” Tessel and I shrieked, once we had gotten into Director Zybi’s office.
“Someone must have seen you leave in the time machine. You have to go back now,” Director Zybi yelled. We all headed toward the roof.
The time machine was exploding with blue streaks. Director Zybi had told me to go through the time machine at exactly 12:00 p.m.. The time machine started to creak. Will it work? I doubted it. I’m going through time and into a world that I messed up, so I might die, but everyone else will too. I’m so reassuring.
It was almost time to go. The blue swirls surrounding the time machine were going higher and higher by the second. There are only eleven minutes left before I can rescue the world. Or possibly destroy the whole universe and live in an eternal nothing. The watch on my wrist felt like it was carving itself into my arm. The time machine started to creak. 11:50. Ten minutes till I go back in time. The time machine got louder. Crrrrreeeeeeeeeaaak.
“Serena,” I heard a faint voice whisper. My reflexes made me turn around instantly. I saw Tessel behind me. She was gesturing me to come over. I looked down at my watch, 11:51, nine minutes to spare. My numb and frozen legs started sloppily running over to her.
“Tessel, what are you doing here? I asked that everyone evacuate the area, so I could fix the timeline.”
“But it won’t work. You know that you shouldn’t mess with the timeline. It’s basically your catchphrase here,” she mocked in a cold, hard, and serious voice, letting absolutely no laughter escape.
“I know, I know, I know. But if I don’t try, the universe will stop working anyways. I have to go through the door,” I added.
“But you ca — what door?” Tessel asked, stopping midway in her sentence.
“The door into time,” Serena answered. “The time machine.”
“Please don’t. I don’t want you to go.”
It’s 11/29/1812 5:30 p.m., and I am still stuck in time. I’m still with the king. I’m still in this world. I’m still Serena Servedore. Everyone is still dead. Because of me. I told them. I told them everything. Now they are dead. I can’t believe I told him, and now he’s dead. I am stuck in time. Because I traveled back in time. Because I told the king who I am. Because I did what I wasn’t supposed to do. My friends are dead. Because of what I did. I messed with the timeline.
“I messed with time, and now everyone is dead,” I admit to myself. “I am the only existing being in the world. This is my reward for messing with time.” I look at my clothes. They are dirty, messed up. Ripped. Everything is gone. I see nothing. No colors. Not even black. Not even white. It’s not like anything anyone has seen before. “So this is what time is,” I mumble. This is what nothing is. Nothing is nothing. Everything is nothing except for me. I am the only thing in the universe. To be more precise. I am the only thing in the nonexistent universe. It’s not 11/29/1812 at 5:30 p.m. actually. It’s nothing. Because I betrayed everyone. It is literally the day of nothing. The day after nothing. The day before nothing. Because of me.