Note: Hey, guys! Thanks for stopping by to read this story. But, before you start, you should know one thing: THIS IS NOOOOT RELATED TO THE PROMPT! ‘Worlds’ is a sci-fi story I’ve recently written for school, not on a Reedsy prompt. I’m posting it here just to get some feedback. It’ll most likely be removed by the Reedsy staff when this contest closes, so...yeah. One week only, ‘Worlds’!
Vocab to know before reading:
Orbs - their dwellings
School Orb - kinda like boarding school, ages 6 though 16
Jiyoki- kinda like college
Areth - Earth in the future
Sectors - the main division of the New World; think countries
Korems - Sectors further split up; think states
I shift my back against the hard ground, silty rock packed into bricks. The night sky, a coal dome stretching on forever, is stunning at night. The thirteen Korem of Sector Six is under construction, but for now, it’s an empty place to relax under the stars. As I stargaze, my fierce best friend and girlfriend Camari picks at the rocks.
Like almost all citizens, Camari and I aren’t allowed to leave Sector Five—the fifth sector of six, the one we were born in—but we can leave our Korem. Almost a mile away from the Korem where Camari are roommates in an Orb (we attend the same Jiyoko), the faint humming of hover-vehicles is completely gone. My glassy blue eyes trace the star-studded sky, diamonds embedded into the ink. My namesake, the milky moon, gleams.
Under the galaxies is where I think best—not like I can see the galaxies often when the thick Dome is up. Every Sector of the thirteen has a Dome, a giant translucent plastic-glass that acts as a barrier between the other Sectors. The Dome can go up or down, depending on the weather. But when it’s up, the thick covering blocks a lot of sunlight or starlight.
“This was a great idea,” I sigh, smiling.
Camari and I were matched to live in the same Orb as we attended Jiyoko (an optional school you can take after graduated the School Orb to become an Educated Adult, allowing a variety of jobs when your YA years housing with a roommate are over) because the Matching Commitee seemed to notice through the tests we took at the end of School Orb that we were complete opposites. Camari was tough and bold, I was shy and calculated. But that made us click, balance each other out. We became best friends immediately—when we started living together at age sixteen—and by the time we turned seventeen we were casually dating.
Instead of having a normal Saturday evening, Camari suggested we go to the under-construction Korem near our own. I didn’t want to, but now that she had dragged me here I’m enjoying it.
“Ha! Told you so, Moon,” she says. I can almost see her smirk.
We sit in silence for a good fifteen minutes. It’s getting late, but it’s the weekend. We get to chill.
“Camari?” I finally say, listening to the turtlebirds sing in the distance. I hear my black-haired acquaintance stop picking up rocks and throwing them down again. “Do you believe in carts?”
“Hmm?” she replies. I can tell she’s only half-listening.
“Y’know, those big bulky transportation thingies Sir Dawson says existed back in the Old World?” Sir Dawson is our history teacher. He tells us tales of the Old World, the time up until the meteor crash that destroyed most of the old Areth. We only know of that time, customs and (some) languages, from evidence not burned up. But honestly, while I know he and all the other scientists of the New World have evidence, that ancient world is pretty hard to believe.
She laughs. “You mean cars?”
I frown. “I could’ve sworn it was carts.”
“Well, I think carts are something, too. More wheeled thingies.”
“Okay. Yeah. That. But do you think that all that stuff actually existed?”
I prop myself up and glance over. Camari’s olive skin is bathed in moonlight. She has silky black hair that’s always either down in a massive frizzy of curls, or twisted up into an elegant yet simple hairstyle. Today she’s wearing a thick braid over her shoulders, her amber eyes glittering as she shrugs. “Dunno.”
Minutes pass. I yawn. “We should get home.”
Camari nods, pulls herself to her feet, and helps me up. “Let’s.”
The next morning, my eyes flutter open, greeted with buttery sunlight pouring in through the cracks in the shades. Like all Orbs in the New World, Camari and I’s home for the past year and next few years is a gorgeous collage of glass, metal and wood, modern and beautiful.
The downside is that, while my room’s outer wall (our bedrooms take up the top floor of the spherical home. Camari’s room on one side, mine on the other, and a bathroom and a staircase in between. That means one of my walls is curved) provided a jaw-dropping view of the sleek multi-layered acropolis our Korem is, my clear walls provided zero coverage when I was changing, no shield from the morning sun, etc. Every night (or when I wanted privacy), I pulled down some shades on my outer wall. Camari did the same in her room, and we also shaded the bottom floor’s outer walls. That way, our whole home is undisturbed during night hours.
As I yawn and roll out of bed (literally tumble onto the floor), I hear the smack of my door flinging open and smashing into the room. “Camari,” I say through another yawn as I lie on the floor, listening to her stomp over to me, “why so loud?”
Her hair dangles in her face as she bends over, staring at me with a huge smile on her face. “It’s Sunday!”
I roll over again, my chin against the floor. I glance around and spot Camari’s bare feet, her toenails painted turquoise. “Yeah?”
“Guess where we’re going tonight?!”
“Um…” What did she mean? “Can’t we go back to that Korem?”
Camari rolls me over so I’m looking upwards again. She plops down next to me as I prop myself up on my elbows. Her amber eyes bore into my own. “Nope! We’re going to the art fair!”
I give her a skeptical expression as I get up and start towards our bathroom. “Explain,” I say, walking into the tiled room and grabbing my toothbrush.
As I brush my teeth and wash my face, my girlfriend tells me about the plan for tonight. Supposedly there’s a super-cool art fair opening at 9 p.m., but it lasts two nights only. The tickets are expensive but only ten tosah for students attending Rikoso—the Jiyoko Camari and I go to—because all the pieces are made by Rikoso graduates. Camari had gone ahead and booked tickets because, and I quote, she was ‘so hyped to go, and the tickets were so low-priced’.
“It’s going to be awesome, Moon,” she promises enthusiastically. “Scientists and artists worked together to make multitasking pieces—there’s decorated inventions! Half the fun is how they look, half the fun is what they do. I can’t wait!”
I tie my hair up and smile at Camari. “Okay, okay, sounds fun.”
She pumps her fist. “I knew you’d be on board! Now, all we have to do is…”—she glances at my clock, painted with flowers—“…wait twelve hours. Ugh.”
“C’mon, it’s a Sunday,” I way between snorts. “I’m sure we can find something to do before the art fair.”
“Want to watch Season Three of ‘Game of Chance’? Or finish that stupid board game we’ve been playing for like a month? Go to the park? Visit the School Orb and help out in all the households?” The School Orb is composed of two parts: the actual building for learning, and the many orbs housing three students and one mentor each looping around the place. The mentors care for the students like family, but sometimes they needed an extra hand with three kids each. “Buy more groceries? Stare at the wall and do nothing?”
“I was thinking more along the lines of going back to sleep.”
“See you in a few hours,” she says with a laugh.
By the time it’s nine p.m., Camari and I are all ready for the fair. Camari’s wearing a red dress that flares at the waist, her curls twisted into an elaborate updo. I’m wearing a purple velvet dress with short sleeves, my hair waterfalling down my shoulders. Camari’s bringing a purse with snacks because, I mean, we always get hungry at art fairs.
Camari drives us to the fair in her hover-tih, a sleek red vehicle that, like all other hover-vehicles, floats a few feet above the ground. Hover-tihs are the average form of transportation—they look the the ‘cars’ Sir Dawson described, but topless and much more modern. All they house are two rows of two to three seats each and a dashboard up front, with a screen for typing in directions and emergency brakes. Camari inputs the place of the art fair, and the hover-tih automatically takes off. Camari and I relax under the blanket of stars as Orbs zoom by.
When her tih parks by the edge of the Cikolian Woods, we hop out and start down the wood-chipped path. The fair’s destination in the middle of a forest, oddly enough.
At the beginning of the path, a thin man in a suit stands, holding a piece of paper. “Hello,” he says with a crisp accent. “I’m Sir Laren. Are you here for the Rikoso art fair?”
Camari gives a curt nod. “Hello! And, yes. Our ticket numbers are ninety and ninety-one.”
Sir Laren checks the page, his eyes scrolling for a bit before he locates our names. “Camari Jaynstine and Moon Resos?” We both nod. “And you two attend the Jiyoko Rikoso?” We nod again. Sir Laren smiles. “Have a nice night!”
We thank him and continue down the path.
The cold air nips at my exposed shoulders as we walk around a bend in the woodland path. My jaw drops at the scene. A large clearing spans in front of me, joyful lights strung throughout the trees. Neat rows of booths are spread across the space, easily one hundred, displaying a variety of beautiful objects I know have some hidden purpose. There’s a painted framed with gold, some sort of statue freckles with buttons, and a variety of other things. Each table is occupied by two people my age, A long table on the opposite side of the circle-shaped clearing displays a full-blown buffet—yum—which people are already at. Oh, and, of course, milling around the setting are hundreds of people, teenagers and adults alike.
“Woah,” I say. “This is….”
“Magical,” Camari finishes. I nod. A corny way to describe something, but the fairy lights and woodland smell did make for a pretty impressive sight.
“Let’s go check out the pieces!” I say, stepping towards the booth. Camari catches my arms. “Uh-uh-uh,” she says, wagging her finger at me. “First, food. Them, inventions.”
I grin. “Yup.”
Thirty minutes later, I’m stuffed with soup and bowls of Yooles (small, chewy candies with a honey-peanut butter middle and a solid caramel crust that melts in your mouth. I LOVE them) and completely enjoying the art fair. Camari and I stroll around the clearing linking shoulders, exploring the fair with the hundreds of other fancily-dressed people.
All of the art projects are super cool. They look gorgeous but have a hidden skill the inventors show us. Like, the stunningly-carved statue? When you press a button on the girl’s head, hot tea streams out of her mouth. I was wowed at that station, and not only because the wild orange tea was spot-on.
Hours pass. I visit all of the booths with Camari. By midnight, almost nobody is still here.
“Is that all the projects?” I glance around.
“No,” Camari says. “Look over there.”
I squint as what she’s pointing at. At the very end of the clearing, concealed by the shadows where the strung lights have flickered out, is the last booth. The table is draped in black cloth, and I can barely see what invention is displayed. I can make out the Rikoso graduate who made whatever the project is—just a single person, his face concealed by a black hoodie.
We approach the booth cautiously. “Hi,” Camari says, sticking her hand out to the guy. From what I can see of his face, he looks like he’s in his early twenties.
“Ugh. People,” he grumbled. “Whatever. Hi. I’m Blake.”
I scan the booth. The boy is dressed in all black, matching the midnight tablecloth, and his project is another sculpture, resembling what I think is a car in shades of glossy black. When I peer closer, it looks like the lights have been forcefully shut off near the area. Not by brute force; to cut off ten feet of light but not the rest of the string requires advanced engineering. That means two things: 1, this inventor is pretty dang smart, and 2, he obviously didn’t want to be noticed. His remark supports the second noticing—apparently he isn't keen on visitors. “So, um, what’s your project, Blake?” I say.
He gestures to the sculpture. “A replica of what we think to be Old World ‘cars’.”
“And…what does it do?”
Blake mumbles something under his breath.
“Hmm?” Camari says.
“It’s a time machine,” he grunts. “It takes you to the Old World for exactly sixty seconds. One use only.”
“Woah,” I say. This guy is more advanced than the others. Like, way. “That’s so cool! Why didn’t you want other people to see it?”
“All the other artists say it won’t work,” Blake says with a sigh.
“Well, does it?”
He shrugs. “I told you. One use only. I have no idea.”
Camari and I exchanged grins. “Well, can we try it?”
He nods. “Sure. But don’t blame me if it explodes instead.” I gave him a look. He shrugged and poked a finger towards the car replica. “Open the side door. Inside is a ‘wheel’—a little curricular thing Old Worldians turned to make their ‘cars’ go. Twist it, and you’ll be transported back in time for a minute.”
“Okay!” I say.
As soon as my finger brushed against the car’s front left door, it pops open. Nice. I push my finger inside and grasp the ‘wheel’. Camari touches the wheel too.
“Three, two…” I say. “One!”
Camari and I’s fingers turn the ‘wheel’ in unison, and the art fair disappears in a flash of light.
I expected teleporting, especially back in time hundreds of thousands of years, would take a while. Or at least, the journey would feel like it takes a while.
Instead, light pounds into my skull, and in less than a second, I reappear somewhere new.
A burning headache crashes into my mind as the settings change. I kneel over, nausea rising in waves. My arms curl around my stomach. Ow. I see Camari’s head ducked next to mine.
Then, all of a sudden, the migraine disappears. I give a sigh of relief.
That’s when I actually take in my surroundings.
The first thing I see of the Old World is the floor, gross concrete decorated with gum and dirt. Grimy. Disgusting. Blech. I hear horns blaring and wheels squee-ing and people talking as I study the ground.
I stand up and glance around, and that’s when my jaw hits the floor again.
I’m standing on an island of concrete in the midst of endless blackish roads. A huge curved dome rises behind me, leaving a doorway where moving stairs descend into the ground. In front of me, boxy shops and stores connect in rows by the streets. Life-sized replicas of Blake’s car statue are honking and beeping as they drive on the roads. People, so many people, mill around the area.
I’m here. Sometime in the Old World.
I try to assign names to the sights. That thing behind me…is that the opening to a metro? Are those black things roads? And I guess cars are real after all.
“This is insane!” Camari yelps, twirling in circles to take everything in. “We’re here!”
I feel just as shocked. We’re standing in a place where my girlfriend and I technically don’t exist yet. Sprawling around the globe right now are cars and houses and Walmarts, void of Orbs or Jiyokos or Domes. Camari and I are standing in a state, or a country, or a city, not a Korem or Sector.
“Amazing,” I whisper.
Soon, almost all of our time in the Old World, a civilization with oddly-dressed people and strange inventions, is up. For the remaining ten seconds, my best friend and I gawp and gasp at the ancient details.
All too soon, another flare of light burns my eyes, and I’m back at the art festival in the New World.
I fall to the floor, my head spinning. I’m dizzy, dizzy, dizzy—and amazed. My stomach is threatening to exit my body via my throat when I’m hauled to my feet.
“You okay?” Blake says.
I blink and help up Camari. “More than okay. That was awesome!”
“I still can’t believe it worked,” Blake says in a hushed voice. I can tell he’s as dazed as I am. “Wow! This—this is a breakthrough! Wowowowow! I invented a legit time machine!”
“Gosh,” Camari agrees.
I hug her. “I’m glad we didn’t explode.”
She laughs and pulls apart. “I am too, Moon. And guess what?”
“What?” I gesture for her to go on.
“We finally have an answer to your question.”
I squint, and she smiles. “Yeah, Moon. The Old World does exist. And we got to see it.”