TIME TRIPPERS: AWARENESS
CHAPTER 1: TIMELY DISCOVERY
A time machine. That would solve everything, Carrie Waterson decided. If she had a time machine, then she could make an appearance at Julie’s party tonight, and then later on, travel back in time to now. This meant that her future self would end up back here in her room, on the off chance that her father came to check on her later. For that matter, Carrie mused, there would also be the fringe benefit that she would then get a full night’s sleep before tomorrow’s math test.
Oh well – her dad probably wouldn’t check. In fact, it was wouldn’t even be a problem if she hadn’t accidentally let slip about the party during dinner earlier this week. Seeing as, generally speaking, her dad remained wonderfully oblivious to most of her comings and goings, and indeed, her whole social life. Now, if she’d still had a mother, maybe her mother would have paid more attention...
She raised her bedroom window, and poked her head out, glancing around the backyard. No one was around. Not surprising, with it being a Thursday night in late September, but since the yard opened right out into a ravine, one could never be sure what people (or small animals) might be wandering around.
After briefly adjusting the strap of the small purse she had slung over her shoulder, Carrie made her way onto the roof, and over to the oak tree. It was then with practiced ease that she climbed down via the branches, despite how her hair was nearly long enough to reach her waist, and her somewhat impractical choice of attire. This being a slightly cropped top, and a skirt that only just reached her knees. But you didn’t show up to a party thrown by the richest girl in town wearing a long sleeved T-shirt with torn jeans. Particularly not when you had been declared the head cheerleader for the school year.
Carrie couldn’t help but smirk a little at that thought, as she dropped to the ground. She wasn’t even part of the graduating class, however even as a junior, her athletic ability already surpassed most, if not all of the seniors. Add to that the fact that she was in the right social circles, and well, it had really been a foregone conclusion. So with her reputation, she could be forgiven for showing up while wearing her running shoes, which would be more practical for traversing the ravine than any sort of heels. Not showing up at all though – that would be harder to explain away. Especially since Julie was also her best friend.
The blonde hooked some errant strands of her long hair back behind her ear, and adjusted the blue hairband she wore, before quickly sprinting across the backyard and into the cover of the trees in the ravine. She glanced briefly back towards the house, seeing the light was still on in the den. Maybe her dad would be so into writing his latest set of short stories that she would be back before he even went to bed. That would be helpful.
Finally completely turning her back on the house, she headed down into the band of greenery that cut a swath through the small Canadian town in which she lived. There were some paths, to be sure, but they weren’t always obvious, so one had to take care not to trip on a root, or fall and twist an ankle. Despite this, and the fact that it was growing ever darker, Carrie was able to make good time. She knew the routes well, having lived in this town all her life, having explored around the area when she was younger. Her current trajectory would lead her out to the park on the other side. From there, party central was just a few blocks away.
Carrie put her track and field abilities to good use as she hurried through the underbrush. So it wasn't long before she saw the park through the trees ahead. However, in her haste and confident familiarity, Carrie tripped just before emerging from the wooded area. She fell to the ground, biting back a cry of surprise. And while managing to break her fall, she still slid a bit and felt a twinge of pain.
The blonde quickly turned herself over into a seated position, looking down at her knees. Sure enough, she'd skinned one of them. Perhaps she shouldn't have worn so short a skirt. She sighed. At least her reflexes had still been good, and the rest of her seemed fine... but damn it, if there was one thing she was not, it was clumsy! How had she fallen? Something unusual must have tripped her up, maybe an animal or something. Half annoyed and half curious, Carrie tossed some of her long hair back off her face, sat up fully and peered back along her trail to see what had been in her way.
She blinked. Though it had become difficult to see in the dark, with the moonlight, Carrie was able to pick out the outline of a medium sized black box. Most curious. Carrie approached to look more closely at it - she was sure it hadn't been there earlier in the week. The box was a rectangular prism, but with a digital readout that had been sunken slightly into the front. It also had a handle on the side, and Carrie's first impression was that this device was some cross between a computerized slot machine and a cash register. But the readout didn’t depict cherries or lemons. It just featured eight numbers – with no indication of a decimal point.
Wait a minute, Carrie realized upon closer inspection, there was also a slot next to the readout where you could drop in coins... that could be another reason she was drawing parallels with slot machines. But investigating further, Carrie saw nowhere to collect your winnings, or any other openings. So what was this thing, and why was it here?
She shook it. She couldn't hear any coins inside. She then ran her hands over the sides of the machine, which seemed to be surprisingly smooth. Something about it struck her as being high-tech, but she couldn't put her finger on what. Had someone thrown this device away? After all, it was back in the underbrush of the ravine near the park, and she couldn't think of any other reason for it to be here. Maybe the thing didn't work. Which raised the question of how it was supposed to work. Carrie decided a few more minutes of inspection wouldn't hurt at this point. She looked closer.
There was an unexpected flash of light from somewhere in the park behind her, which allowed Carrie to pick out the outline of a circular panel on the top of the device. Carrie tossed a quick glance back over her shoulder but saw nothing unusual, so she returned to her examination. The panel reminded her vaguely of her father’s CD player. This really was a hybrid device. She pressed the top circular section, wondering if it would open, but nothing happened. Maybe the handle? She pulled it down, but again nothing happened. Perhaps it worked like an old style jukebox, only activating when you dropped coins into the slot.
Curiosity completely piqued by this point, Carrie fished around in the small shoulder purse she'd brought with her, bringing out a quarter. Potentially a waste of money, but if this thing did play music or do anything cool, maybe she could present it to everyone at the party as both an interesting artifact and the reason for her lateness. Carrie plunked her quarter into the machine. It began humming. This seemed like progress. Carrie pressed on the top. Nothing. She pulled down on the handle. There was a flash of light and Carrie had the sensation of being sucked into a void. She screamed.
Consciousness came back to her, slowly. That is, until Carrie realized where she was, at which point she sat up with a start. "Dammit!" she cursed, brushing at the dirt all over her clothes. She'd fallen again! Wait, no, the earth had dropped away from underneath her! But then why wasn't she down in a hole somewhere? Carrie looked around. She was still sitting at the border of the ravine, yet now she was slightly off the path and in a small pile of dirt. What the hell had just happened? Carrie's eyes set on the black box, which was still in front of her. It had produced a flash of light...
"Damn thing almost electrocuted me!" Carrie deduced. No wonder it had been thrown away! Her curiosity would be the death of her someday... if only it didn't seem to come naturally. Scowling, Carrie picked herself up off the ground, being reminded of her scraped knee in the process. She tried to brush the rest of the dirt off of herself but quickly realized that her clothes could use changing now too. How many things could go wrong in a single evening? For that matter, how long had she been unconscious? Carrie checked her watch: less than an hour. She should have time for a quick tidy up before taking another run at the party - since Julie's parents were away again, it would probably continue until 1am anyway.
Leaving the stupid box where it was, Carrie hurried out of the wooded area behind her house, up towards the convenient tree in the backyard. She absently remarked on the fact that the wind had picked up a bit, so maybe it would be good that she'd be changing her skirt. Abruptly, Carrie stopped. This was her backyard. She turned. But she'd been about to emerge into the park before she found the device... right? What was she doing back on the wrong side of the ravine?
Carrie's eyes narrowed. This was starting to turn into a very weird night. Perhaps she had wandered towards the house in a semi-dazed state after receiving that electrical shock? Dragging the weird box with her? Well, it was the only explanation she could think of. Anyway, there were more immediate concerns, she'd figure it out later.
Carrie clambered up into the tree, slightly favouring her right leg. She soon reached her unlocked window, opened it, and climbed in onto her desk. She swung her legs around to hop off... and in the process kicked the crystal swan she kept there, causing it to fall to the ground and shatter into a hundred pieces.
Carrie froze. Her heart constricted. She wasn't upset over the noise she had just caused, because more than that... she couldn't have just hit the crystal swan she kept on her desk. That particular ornament had been broken over two years ago...
It was then that Carrie heard the movement over in the sheets on her bed. Someone was in her room. No one was supposed to be in here! What the hell was happening?! Carrie sat on the desk, paralyzed in fear and confusion as whoever was in the bed rolled over, looking in her direction as they blinked themselves awake. On the desk, Carrie's eyes went wide. Then Carrie let out a scream. But it wasn't the Carrie on the desk who was screaming. On the contrary, that Carrie's reflexes were finally kicking in, causing her to get away by practically falling back out of the window.
Meanwhile, the Carrie in the bed was tossing her covers aside and rubbing her eyes to try and clear the sleep from them. There was a knock at her bedroom door. "Hey, are you all right in there? Was that you screaming?" her father called out.
"I..." Carrie stopped, not sure what to say. Had she really just seen a figure breaking into her room, or had she been dreaming? Wait, hadn't she closed her window before going to bed? Carrie scrambled out of bed and moved towards the window. There was what looked like fresh traces of dirt on the surface of the desk and the windowsill. She peered outside. Nothing immediately apparent, but if the person was quick, they might have run around the side of the house. Funny, now that Carrie thought about it, whoever that was, their silhouette had been strangely familiar. Some friend playing a trick on her? If so, Carrie didn't think it was very funny.
"I'm coming in!" her father suddenly announced. Carrie grabbed a couple of textbooks and stuck them down to conceal the few dirty smears on her desk as her door opened and the lights clicked on.
"It's all right!" Carrie said quickly. "I... I just had a bad dream and overreacted." She couldn't let her father know about the prowler. He might start keeping a closer eye on her in the future, or even worse cut down the tree in the backyard... which would put a severe cramp in what little social life she had. She was having enough trouble trying to assert herself and gain a position of some status now that she was in high school. She didn't need this extra aggravation.
Her father paused. "Are you sure?" He took another step in, then paused. "It looks like you've broken something..."
Carrie blinked, and with the lights on she noted for the first time the demise of her crystal swan. She choked back a cry of horror. "The swan... the swan mama gave to me..." Carrie said sadly, biting her lip. But she was not going to cry, damn it. She was not going to display such weakness, at least not with her father here. "It... the wind must have knocked it off the desk..." Carrie continued. This settled it. Whoever had just been in here, playing this horrible, stupid prank, they were going to pay! She would see to that! But how was she supposed to find out who had done it?
"I'm sorry," her father replied sincerely. There was a pause. "Maybe I can find you another--"
"Don't bother," Carrie said curtly. She reached out and slammed the window shut. "I'll clean up the mess tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm going back to bed. See you in the morning."
Her father blinked at the abruptness of her manner, but didn't seem to know what to say about it. So it was with a final 'goodnight' that he turned the light back off and departed the room. For her part, Carrie curled up in her bed, partly incensed but more despondent than anything else. And with her father out of the room, she allowed a tear to trickle down her cheek. Who had broken the swan? One of the few remembrances she had of her mother. Was there anyone she knew who could help her track down the culprit and get revenge?
Ten minutes later, the doorbell rang at Julie LaMille's house. Or mansion, really – the LaMilles were by far the richest family in town. It was after three rings that Jeeves answered the door. This surprised Carrie on two levels. Firstly, because she had thought that Julie had given the family butler the night off, what with the party and all. Secondly, because he was wearing a bathrobe. It wasn't even midnight yet, and Carrie had always thought that the family help didn't stop working until sometime after that. "Yes?" Jeeves said archly. "Why are you disturbing us so late at night?"
"Uhhhh, I'm looking for Julie," Carrie said uncertainly. She was probably quite a sight too, knee still scraped up, looking dirty and now sweaty after having run all the way over here. But honestly, she just didn't know where else to go or what else to do. Carrie had to figure out what was going on! But there was no party here. Where WAS everybody?
"Miss LaMille is asleep, as is the rest of the house. Come back tomorrow." Jeeves started to close the door.
"No, wait! Jeeves, just tell her it's Carrie, please, I... I don't know where else to go. I think somehow I just met myself... I'm so confused..."
"Neither Julie nor I know anyone by the name of Carrie. So whatever problems you have, either take them elsewhere or come back at a more decent hour." With that, the door slammed shut.
Carrie reeled. Now Julie's family and servants didn't know her? But they'd been acquainted for almost two years now! What the hell was happening? On top of this, some other version of herself had been sleeping in her bed... were people being replaced by alien pod lookalikes? Carrie suddenly felt like she was lost in some bad science fiction movie. But everything had been fine not two hours ago! Well, not fine exactly, she'd had to sneak out of her house, and then ended up skinning her knee...
The box. That damn black box thing. That had to be it, Carrie realized. Somehow, it had done something to everyone! Or... more likely to her! But what? Well, she'd soon figure that out. With nowhere else to turn, Carrie hurried back towards the spot where she'd left the device. Yet as she approached, she heard a rustling in the bushes... someone else was here now! Had the original owner tracked down their property? Would they have answers? "Who the hell is out there?" Carrie demanded.
In response, in the darkness, a shadowy figure jumped up and turned, starting to run away. Screw that - Carrie was fed up with the entire situation now. Whoever this person was, they weren't getting away. Calling once again upon her athletic abilities and ignoring the aches in her body, she sprinted forward and tackled the stranger.
Thanks for reading this far! That was the first 11 pages of my 300 page time travel story (600 double spaced).
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