March 14th, 2055, 7:45pm
A distinctive buzz-zap passed uncomfortably close to my ear as I rounded the corner and slipped into a nearby alleyway. I glanced back briefly to see a crumbling hole in the wall across from where I had been standing a moment ago. The face of the wall blurred briefly, and with a greenish glow began repairing itself back to its normal, cement-looking state.
They’re getting closer, I thought to myself, breathing heavily while I shrunk deeper into the shadows of the alley. I’m running out of places to hide. If it wasn’t for that damn clock…
I shook my head, there was no point in cursing it now. I needed a strategy, and fast.
At that moment, I heard the distinctive, familiar trill of a train whistle resounding to the left of my hiding place. At least there is SOMETHING normal around here! I thought, rolling my eyes as I edged my way towards the street once more.
March 14th, 2055, 6:35am
The blare of my alarm sounded particularly angry this morning. That new clock I purchased last night is more annoying than expected, I thought to myself sleepily as I rolled over once more, groping for my phone. Just five more minutes I swear. Something about my bed did not feel quite right though, as if the universe was urging me to arise at this unholy hour of the day. On daylight savings time, no less.
“Fine,” I sighed, sitting up and stretching my limbs before opening my eyes to search for that obnoxious clock. I blinked, twice, and my eyes focused on the surrounding space.
“Wait…” This room was not mine at all. I was sitting upright on a futon-like piece of furniture, in a dark, cluttered-looking room. The only area that didn’t appear to be filled with odds and ends was near the wall across from the futon, which was completely clear from floor to ceiling. The rest of the furniture in the room seemed familiar in style, though somehow smoother, shinier, even in the darkness. Whoever might be the resident of this dwelling did not seem to have much style, however, as everything looked to be a hodgepodge of interior decorating ideas.
As I rose from my bed, tucking my phone into the pocket of my pajama pants, I heard a shuffling coming from behind the door adjacent to the blank wall. Out peeked a woman with wildly curly brown hair, barely tamed by a scarf tied firmly around her head.
“Ah, you’re awake!” She squeaked, wiggling her way through the door before quickly slamming it shut. She winced at the sound.
“Where am I?” I asked, cautiously approaching her.
“143 Fairview Apartments, Chicago.” She said, nervously fidgeting with her outfit. It appeared to be a sort of jumpsuit, a bit stained by the look of it, and well-worn.
Strange, that’s my apartment number. But this looks nothing like my apartment at all. Could I have misheard her?
“I see…” I trailed off, trying to process what my next question should be with so many swirling around in my mind already. “And, how did I end up here, exactly?”
She glanced around the room once more before making eye contact with me. “I found you here at midnight. You sort of...appeared.”
“Appeared?” More questions bounced around my mind.
“Yes, there was a glow, and the lights blinked off for a minute, and by the time I got them turned on again, I found you curled up on the floor. Gave me quite a fright actually.”
I was at a loss for words. I just appeared? In my own apartment? But not my apartment…
“It’s not unusual!” She interjected into my thoughts. She must’ve seen the growing confusion on my face; her expression softened a bit, though she looked equally lost.
“I mean, it is unusual. People don’t normally just magically appear in my apartment. But, what I mean to say is, you’re not the only one who appeared last night.”
She gestured vaguely as if her hands would talk for her and provide a clearer explanation, before shaking her head at herself in mild frustration.
“Let me show you.”
The woman clapped her hands and the blank wall suddenly came alive with light and color. She stood in front of it a moment, hands on her hips contemplating, before tapping the wall a few times to pull up the image of a newscaster. A screen?
“Chicago was among several hundred cities hit with the ‘Daylight Savings Phenomena’ yesterday evening. Countless individuals from the year 2020 appeared at midnight, much to the surprise of our residents, the cause of which is still unknown. If you have knowledge of one of these individuals, please contact your local Resource Officer immediately.”
The video paused, and the woman turned to face me again, with a perplexed expression. A thousand questions raced through my mind, each more urgent than the next, but one question I had to ask, I had to be sure.
“W-What year is it?” My voice caught as I made eye contact with her once more.
“2055.” She said quietly.
“Ok, ok.” I nodded as I absorbed the reality I now had to face. “Well, what should we do now? Did you contact that Resource Officer like the man said?”
She winced at the words Resource Officer, shaking her head again as if shaking off a bad memory.
“No, I did not contact them. They are… not as helpful as their title might portray. You are not safe with them. I have bought you a little time now by hiding you here, but you must go. They will find you if you do not leave soon.” Her face now showed a sincere sense of urgency, one deeper than I was able to understand.
“Go now? To where? Why won’t I be safe with them?” I felt panic rising from my core.
“There is not enough time to explain now, I’m sorry.” She grasped my shoulders lightly but firmly. “I put together a bag for you while you were asleep. Its got some food, clothes, and a device with a map I can show you how to use. I really wish I could help you more right now, but they’ll discover you here soon, so soon…”
She trailed off for a moment, glancing off blankly into space behind me.
“Come,” she said, patting my shoulder in an attempt to be comforting, “Let me show you what I’ve packed.”
Still in shock, I followed her numbly into the other room of my now-unfamiliar apartment. I looked back at the futon briefly to see my clock sitting comfortably on the side table.
The time read 6:45am.
March 14th, 2055, 7:57pm
If I’m reading this gadget right, this train leads out of the city and follows the lake up to Canada. I thought to myself, tapping the see-through screen of the device a few more times before snapping it shut and slipping it into the pocket of my jumpsuit. The woman in my apartment said I would be safe in Canada, at least for a while until they figure out how to get us back to our time.
She wouldn’t give me her name, which was fair considering she seemed to have had a bad run-in with those Resource Officers. I hope to learn it someday though; I am forever in her debt.
I shook my head, refocusing on the task at hand. The supply train I needed to board was a few yards ahead. Freedom was just within my grasp, but, if what I had read was correct, this train does not make any stops within the city limits. Figures. I grumbled to myself quietly, but the shrill whistle of an approaching train cut through my thoughts like a knife.
No time to waste. I began climbing the ladder of the strange, smooth building, peeking carefully at the rooftop before scrambling to the top. A quick jog to the edge, and suddenly I had a clear view of the tracks below. That’s a long way down, I shuddered before another whistle announced the fast-approaching train.
“There’s another one close by!” A shout from below the building, undertoned with a vaguely metallic sound I’ve come to associate with the Resource Officers.
I stifled a scream before lowering myself below the edge of the rooftop. The rumbling of the train covered my panicked breathing.
“Have you extrapolated their location?” A different voice, still metallic and considerably closer. Their words were harder to make out as the train drowned out any surrounding noise.
I eased myself up against the edge and peeked over the wall. There were no Resource Officers below me and the train would be here any second now. My mind began to race again with questions. Should I hide longer? Should I climb down and slip onto the train? What if they find me?
The ladder on the opposite side of the building creaked loudly, and my erratic thoughts molded into one word.
As the train whistle blew once more, I rose to my feet and lept off the edge of the building. As my feet left the floor, I heard a whispering buzz-zap and saw a crackle of electricity whiz just past my side. I hit the roof of the train with a thud, the air knocked out of me. Pulling myself to the edge, I slipped through a small window of the car and collapsed.
I hope they didn’t see me. A thought hazily passed through my head. Freedom. I’m on my way to freedom.
My eyes fluttered for a moment before the empty car faded into darkness in my mind.