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Science Fiction Fantasy Adventure

It’s the year 2214. Climate change has rapidly progressed over the past century and, despite scientists’ and world leaders’ best efforts, the Earth is nearly dead. The surface is a bleak wasteland ravaged by severe storms that leave death in their wakes. 33 years ago, new incurable diseases began to break out across the globe. Scientists stopped trying to save the planet and started looking for a way to leave it. Although another life-sustaining planet was never found, several space stations were built to orbit the Earth. Only society’s Elite were allowed to board these stations. Everybody else was left on the surface to die. Cities were abandoned in favor of small camps on their fringes. Those that live in these camps travel into the city every day and scavenge for food. A few small towns still exist where they have enough land to farm but most people travel from camp to camp by themselves or with groups smaller than a dozen people. Only the toughest survive.

I screwed up. Massively. Like, screwed up so bad I’m wondering if anybody will come looking for my body. In my head I can picture what my tombstone would look like if I were being buried in the old times. Here lies Lia, who died of great stupidity. On the outside though, I just glare at my companion. Box is probably the ugliest dog you will ever see with one ear bitten off, his once-white coat now matted with dirt, and scars crisscrossing his entire body. I found him one day when I looked in a box for food and he leaped out and scared me half to death. However, even with his foul breath he believes he is the king of the world, and who am I to argue? I’m only a 16-year-old girl who’s only friend is the animal that follows her around for scraps of food.

Now, that animal has screwed us both. I was on my daily scavenge through the ruins of Old New York when Box went crazy and started barking and sprinting toward the Death Tower. The Death Tower is the tallest building in the city, but that’s not how it earned its name. According to the rumors I’ve heard from other scavengers, when the Elite left the planet and announced they wouldn’t be coming back for us they also left messages explaining where they left large caches of food and other supplies. That tower of concrete and glass became a free-for-all battleground when people in the city panicked. Countless people died and it turned out the Elite hadn’t left anything after all. If you left out its past it was supposedly just like any other building in Old New York except those who entered it didn’t come out. Whoever didn’t starve after society’s initial collapse tended to set up their homes on the outskirts of the city to be as far away from it as possible. Whenever scavengers came back to camp telling stories of how that building had felt ‘wrong’ I laughed at them. Still, I never ventured too far into the city. Everybody knew the rule: stay away from the Death Tower.

Like an idiot, I chased the tiny beast through the streets, dodging scraps of metal and weaving my way between broken hovers. “Box! Box, stop!” I cursed under my breath as he ignored me and continued bolting away from me. “Stop, and I’ll give you double your share! Triple! Box!” Unfortunately, more food wasn’t enticing enough to slow him.

Finally he skidded to a halt just outside the doors to the Death Tower. I stopped beside him, panting, and looked at my surroundings. This far into the city it was completely abandoned. Most of the windows in the nearby buildings had been broken when people broke in to scavenge. Any supplies in the area would be long gone, taken when the Elite first left. There were several dull signs nearby that the elders in camp said used to glow. I’m not sure if they’re crazy or not.

I glanced down and realized that while I was looking around Box had walked inside. “Hey! Come back here!” I had barely stepped through the door when I felt it. A strong ripple through the air, almost as if someone had sent a gust of wind to the inside of this building. The doors slammed shut behind me and didn’t budge when I pushed on them. When I stepped further inside my attention was captivated by a set of doors on the wall. Box seemed to have the same idea as me, and together we made our way across the room. As soon as we reached the doors they slid open to reveal a metal box. 

I was wary of entering an enclosed space where it would be easy to die, but Box had no such worries. I sighed and entered after him, seeing buttons with numbers on them. This might be one of those elevators the elders once talked about. Most scavengers were illiterate but, before they died, my parents had wanted me to learn my letters and numbers. I could pick any number between one and one hundred. “Well, you got us into this mess, little guy. You pick the number.” Box only sniffed the wall in reply. “One hundred it is.”

As soon as I pushed the button the doors slid shut and I felt a jolt. I could tell we were moving upward and as we picked up speed I started to get nervous. A small screen on the wall kept flashing numbers, and once we passed fifty we moved even faster. The box trembled and shook so I threw my arms out for balance. The numbers on the screen were still climbing, and were almost to one hundred. 95 . . . 96 . . . 97 . . . 98 . . . 99 . . . 100.

Remember when I told you I was screwed? Well, I was talking about what’s happening right now. After Box and I hit one hundred the screen went dark and we went even faster. I was now huddled in the corner to keep myself from being tossed around like a little doll. Box was burrowing himself in my chest and whimpering whenever the elevator made a particularly large shake. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse the metal box filled with light and I squeezed my eyes shut. Finally, after what seemed like years, we slammed to a stop. 

The doors opened with a small ring and I staggered outside on shaky legs and collapsed on a soft green carpet. I lay there for a minute with my eyes still shut and tried to focus on not losing my lunch. When I did open my eyes I was confused. Instead of being inside the Death Tower I was in the middle of the woods. A quick look around told me what I already knew - the elevator doors were gone. And somehow I knew, I just knew, that we would never get back to where we were from.

Standing up, I shouted, “Hello? Is anybody out there?” A bark came from nearby and I found Box stuck in a bush. He appeared unharmed and immediately started sniffing everything in sight. “What have you gotten us into, Box?” I pushed my brown hair out of my eyes and started walking. As I wandered through the forest, I couldn’t stop staring at my surroundings. Back home I’d been in the woods before, but most of the plants were dead and there were almost no animals. Here, I could see nothing but green covering every bush and tree and even the ground. Birds chirped in the treetops and the undergrowth was constantly rustled by small animals. At the edge of the forest I found a small road leading to a city in the distance. My breath caught as I realized it wasn’t just any city. It was Old New York, but . . . different.

While I made my way down the road I was passed by several working cars. I was curious about them but when I stepped closer they made a loud blaring noise and continued past me. Eventually, dirt and grass turned to concrete and trees and bushes turned to buildings and people. I saw a sign through one of the windows that advertised ticket sales but it was the date that captured my attention. July 10, 2030. “Excuse me, sir, but is that the correct date? Like, the year?” I asked a man standing nearby.

“What other year would it be?”

Oh my god. Oh my god. I’m in the past. The elevator from the Death Tower took me to the past. That’s when I started to notice all the small details I’d missed before. The different style of clothes. The cars instead of hovers. The rectangular objects people seemed to use in place of holo cubes. I turned away from the man and sprinted down the street. I didn’t move in any particular direction, just shoved people out of my way and ran and ran and ran. I finally stopped when I simply couldn’t keep moving and bent over, gasping for air. I didn’t know what to feel. In 2214 I lived in the Old New York camp but kept to myself and only interacted with the others when I had to. The other scavengers certainly wouldn’t miss having one less mouth to feed. Now, in the year 2030, I was still a century away from when climate change effects would be really noticeable. I would probably die before seeing too many changes. I was also two hundred years away from everything and everyone I knew. Though I doubted it, I figured I should at least try to see if I could get back to 2214 through the elevator. My decision made, I picked up Box and walked toward my destination.

When I arrived I was met with a strange sight. Instead of towering over the rest of the city, the Death Tower was a quarter its regular size. After walking in I was welcomed by a young man. “Welcome to the Tower of Death. Which event do you have a reservation for?”

“Reservation?” What had this building been in the past?

“Yes. I’m sorry, but we don’t accept walk-ins. If you’d like to choose an event in the Tower of Death to participate in, you can book it online.”

“Tower of Death?” The name suddenly hit me. “You know this is going to be the Death Tower, don’t you?” The man’s eyes widened and he just stared at me for a few seconds. After he took in my filthy clothes and Box’s bedraggled state he gave me a small smile.

“When the stations were built, who left?” he asked me with a hopeful look on his face.

“The Elite,” I replied, my eyes narrowing. How does he know about that? That happens in two centuries! He gestured for me to follow him and led me through the lobby and into an elevator, which I was very hesitant to get on. Box, however, had no such fears and happily followed the man into the metal box. Deciding to trust his supposedly good canine instincts, I stepped in with them. He pushed the button for the top floor and we began to move upward. Unlike my first elevator ride, this one was very smooth and we didn’t go nearly as fast. 

Fortunately, despite my fears, we arrived safely on the top floor. The doors slid open and I stepped out in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows and several long desks with computers on them. People typed away at the computers, talked on the phone, or walked with a folder in their hands. Everyone looked so . . . happy. A woman typed something on her computer while chatting animatedly with the man next to her. There was another woman making faces at her friend while having a conversation on the phone. Yet, despite the way it appeared, if I looked closely I could tell that they weren’t all actually working. In fact, most of them seemed to be there just to hang out with their friends.

One person noticed me standing there and immediately turned to say something to his friend. In less than a minute, I held the entire room’s attention. A man on the far side of the room stood up and slowly strode toward me. From the way the others’ watched him, I discerned he was their leader. When he finally reached me he held his hand out and I shook it. He stared into my eyes and greeted me. “Welcome to the past.”

September 23, 2020 01:01

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3 comments

Rae H
01:10 Sep 30, 2020

Hi, and thank you for reading my story. I am a beginning writer here on Reedsy, so all feedback is much appreciated. I hope you enjoyed my story!

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Lily Kingston
16:11 Sep 25, 2020

Wow, this is such an interesting story that takes you for a spin as she gets taken to the past, but it turns out they were expecting time travelers to come back and were prepared for it, greeting her without skipping a beat! I also like how Box is the one who got them in trouble and she keeps nagging about they’re screwed. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

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Rae H
14:08 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback!!!

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