When The World Stopped

Submitted into Contest #93 in response to: Write your story about two characters tidying up after a party.... view prompt


Fiction Fantasy Science Fiction

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Nyla says as she snatched the paper from Calla’s grasp. It was merely moments ago that the two ladies where having a lively conversation that toed the line between cheeky and distasteful, which was their usual preference when it came to indulging in routine gossip. And now their entire world was coming crashing down around them.

“I just don’t understand. How, if this is even true, would no one have known. I mean it’s been years – decades even- since the war. There is no way they could have kept a secret like this all this time.” Nyla said in disbelief. Calla could tell from her tone that she was already in the process of making up her mind, ready to dismiss this information as just another political ploy.

Calla remained silent as she listened to her heartbeat drumming inside her chest. She began to think back to the beginning of the night and how just a few hours earlier her biggest concern was whether or not the caterers had accounted for the latest food allergy that was trending within her social circles. How trivial a problem compared to the details outlined in this one little document.

“Nyla, it must be true. I mean think of all the stories shared by the old council before the new order. We were always told that they were merely conspiracy theories but according to this they were telling the truth."

“That’s insane, the old council was removed because they were sharing lies in exchange for their own political gain. They were trying to undermine our progress as a civilization because they felt they were losing control. You know that.” Nyla replied, almost yelling at this point.

It’s true that the old councils’ remarks had been dismissed as merely false allegations meant to further their own agenda. In fact it was Calla’s own father who was responsible for creating the new order after the old council was voted to be removed. And she had never doubted his position, until now.

Was this left on purpose? What are the odds that I am the one to find this? Calla thinks to herself as she watches Nyla pacing the room with the document in hand.

And Calla was right, the timing was too perfect for this to be on purpose. In fact, the odds of her and Nyla being the one’s to tidy up after the party were slim to none. It just so happened that tonight she decided to send the staff home early so her and Nyla could privately discuss all the new plus one’s that had shown up to tonight's affair, especially councilman Devry’s new beau who was obviously at least half his age.

However, even so Calla couldn’t ignore the feeling that somehow she was meant to find this.

“We have to tell Jared and Mack.” Nyla said, turning to Calla. “They need to know that someone is creating fraudulent documents meant to implicate them and the entire new order.”

“But what if it’s true?” Calla pressed her friend.

“IT’S NOT!” Nyla screamed.

Calla stared in shock as Nyla stood in front of her chest heaving and eyes wide.

Calla had always admired Nyla’s loyalty, however, it was clear now that Nyla’s loyalty to her husband ran much deeper than her loyalty to Calla.

Taking a deep breath, Calla decided to proceed with caution as to avoid the potential landmines that remained ahead in their conversation. “Okay, when should we tell them?” Calla asked.

“Now, let’s tell them now!” Nyla urged, obviously frantic.

Calla wanted to have some time to try and determine for herself if these documents were indeed true. She sat for a moment thinking about how to stall Nyla, if even for a day. However, she quickly realized that there was no way that Nyla wouldn’t end up sharing this information with Mack the moment she got home.

“Alright, we’ll tell them together,” Calla decided. She walked over to Nyla and reached her hand out for the document. Nyla glanced at her with hesitation but ultimately handed it over. As Calla turned to walk towards Jared’s study she could feel the divide begin between them, the tension that would forever remain part of their friendship.

Calla’s home designed in wings, with Jared’s study being on the other side of the house. Initially, she thought the home was too extravagant and flashy. Now however, she was grateful for the distance it put between her and Nyla. It was just enough distance to give her time to run in her office and make a copy of the document.

Once inside her office, she frantically grabbed a stack of clean paper off her desk and placed it in her scanner. She placed the document on the scanner and quickly hit copy. She waited for the machine to whir into action, worried by how much time was going by.

The machine spit out the fresh copy in a matter of seconds. Calla grabbed it and the original, turning to her desk drawer. At was at this moment that she realized just how distressed the original really was compared to the fresh copy just created.

The original paper was fairly wrinkled and the edge looked as if it was torn out of a book or binder. It wasn’t until this moment that Calla realized that this paper was taken in a hurry, this wasn’t a carefully constructed document that was merely created and printed. This was created, printed, placed with other pieces of paper, and then at some point ripped apart.

Calla could hear her heartbeat begin to rise again. I need to find out who brought this, she thought to herself as she dropped the copy into her desk drawer.

She ran out of her office and hurried towards Jared’s office, hoping to make up some lost time. As she approached his door she could hear the hoot and hollering of two friends enjoying a successful night of swooning their most important constituents. This was one part of the old world that was still a necessity even in the new order. However, now there were safeguards in place to insure that money never became the ultimate ruling power again.

She paused in front of the door gathering her thoughts and hoping to give them one more moment of peace before she shattered their night all together. Finally, she raised her delicately tanned hand to knock.

She could immediately hear them shift their loud bellows to hushed chuckles as Jared walked towards the door.

Jared was tall and slender with dark auburn hair, making it easy for any woman to admire his intellect as well as his physique. She thought back to how simple life use to be before. Before they graduated from The Catechization, before they joined the new order, before this fancy home and extravagant parties. And most importantly, before they found this one page document determined to forever change the world around them.

Jared knew something was wrong the instant he saw her expression. “What is it?” He asked, his smile quickly fading and his soft features turning to stone. Calla could barely look her husband in the eyes as she replied, “You need to come with me. Nyla and I found something you need to see.” Looking over his shoulder she quickly added, “Both of you.” Mack looked up from the drink he had been admiring with a puzzled look on his face.

Mack was a similar build to Jared, however, somehow appeared more attractive. Calla always chalked it up to his styled hair and designer clothes. Meanwhile her husband had embraced a more classic black and grey wardrobe over the years, making him appear a few years his senior and that much wiser. But now Calla could see that the change of expression is what truly set them apart.

While her husband stood before her serious and stern, ready for business, Mack on the other hand maintained a soft and curious look. Nyla really is the one in charge, Calla thought as she watched him rise to his feet. They always joked about how Nyla was the brains behind the power couple. Something Calla didn’t truly believe until now, making her even more cautious with her friend.

Calla led the two men down the hall, past her office and back into the main hall where Nyla waited for them, less than patiently.

She stopped midpace as soon as she saw them approaching. She ran to her husband almost in tears. “Did she tell you!? Did you she show you the document?” Nyla said frantically. “I can’t believe someone is doing this to us. Tell me it isn’t true. Tell me this is all just some hoax.”

Mack looked at his wife with confusion. Nyla realized at that moment Calla hadn’t shared the document with either of them. “You didn’t show them?” She said to Calla accusingly.

“I thought it would be better if we discussed it as a group.” Calla replied, calmly handing the document to her husband.

“Calla, where did you find an unpublished archive?” Jared asked her, recognizing the raised seal on the top. “We found it.” Calla said simply. “Found it?” Jared replied, saying the words slowly. Calla tried to decipher what her husband was thinking but his expression remained still and cold. “It sticking out from under the chair, folded in half.” Calla said, motioning to the pure white arm chair off to the side of the room.

“Who left it?” Jared asked immediately and without hesitation. “We aren’t sure.” Calla replied cautiously. “Did you know about this?” she asked him.

“Of course not.” Jared replied as he handed the archive to Mack. Calla watched as Mack read the document. Almost instantly she could see the color drain from his face and his soft features momentarily stiffened. He must have felt her eyes on him because he quickly cleared his throat and let his face soften once more before looking up as he read an excerpt from the archive.

“It’s been 270 years and entire generations since the alien technology was found. To this day the new order has yet to learn it’s origins or how it can be fixed. All anyone has been able to determine thus far is how to successfully use the technology as a way to create an entirely new planet, something that was implemented after learning that Earth’s destruction was imminent. It remains unknown how exactly this technology helps keep our planet in an orbit around the sun but we believe that it has to do with the magnetic field being generated from the internal core of the planet. And even further research needs to be done on the terraforming capabilities that were able to be performed once the internal core was formulated. It appears that this technology can be expressed in both a mechanical and biological manner that while benefiting to us, is still a complete mystery. Up until now the technology has needed little intervention or manipulation in order to perform the tasks needed to create this new planet and all life that exists on it. However, now recent events have led us to believe that the energy source for this technology – which at one point seemed unlimited- is in fact limited and deteriorating. To prevent further catastrophic events and eventual destruction of the planet and extinction of all species the new order needs to either find an new energy source to recharge this technology or will need to find another option to house all life on this mechanical planet.”

Mack looked up from the archive and locked eyes with Jared. “We have to tell the Crown and we need to do it now,” He said. Jared nodded in agreement and it was in that moment that Calla knew it was true. They didn’t involve the crown unless it was absolutely necessary and of the most importance. If this was simply another hoax or conspiracy it wouldn’t need the Crown’s attention. Calla glanced at Nyla who remained silent, looking off into the distance and knew she knew it too. The entire thing was true.

Calla had so many questions. So were all those stories about living in space to let the planet heal lies? How in the world were they able to just create a planet, one with trees and life and animals? And what about the war?  And that’s when it hit her like a ton of bricks. The war.

It wasn’t a war for control of the planet, it was a war for survival. She knew people were left on Earth but they were always told that they were the one’s who didn’t want to come to space. They didn’t believe that the atmosphere was at catastrophic levels. But it was clear now that they didn’t choose to say, they were forced.

Everyone knew, Calla thought horrified. There’s no way that the survivors had landed on the planet and not noticed the missing infrastructure. They must have known that the planet they landed on was not the same planet they had left.

“Sir, we have something that you need to see.” Jared’s voice jolted Calla from her trance. “Yes sir. Sounds good sir. Thank you sir.” Jared hung up the phone, looked at Calla and said, “Your father will be here in the morning.” Calla simply nodded in response.

“Mack, Nyla. You guys are more than welcome to stay in one of the guest rooms. It’ll probably be easier than heading home and coming back. Nyla, Calla can grab you some pajamas and an appropriate outfit for the morning. Mack, I’m pretty sure I have some flashy suits you’ll actually like.” Jared said with a small smile. Calla noticed it was the first time his expression had relaxed since learning of the letter.

The group began to say their goodnights as Jared offered to lead Mack and Nyla to their room. Calla quickly ran to her office the minute they left. She took the copied archive from her desk, rereading it for any clue of who would have brought it that night. However, all it contained was the usual pertinent information such as the date, header, and topic of discussion.

There were no clues as to who brought the archive into her home or why they would have left such an important document on her floor. Calla sat back in her chair with her head hanging back and her fingers clenching the bridge of her nose.

What am I even doing? She thought to herself. What if it isn’t true? But she felt that same gut feeling within herself, trying to claw it’s way out.

If it was true she needed to make sure her father didn’t repeat the same mistakes as his predecessors. However, she knew he wouldn’t listen to her. Frederick! She sprang forward at the thought.

Frederick was like an Uncle to Calla. He was on the old council before it was restructured and remained as a consultant for the new order.

Calla knew that if this was true he would be able, and willing, to confirm it. She reached for her phone to dial him immediately. Straight to voicemail.

As unusual as it was for him to have his phone off, Calla decided she would try him again in the morning. Maybe she would be able to reach him early before her father arrived. As she hung up the phone she tries to think back to who was at the party earlier that evening.

While going through her mental list she realizes that she never saw Frederick. At the time it she wasn’t concerned, assuming he was just running late. However, thinking back she realizes he never actually showed up to the party, which wasn’t like him. Frederick’s habits were rooted in chivalry and manners, he rarely skipped a party and if he did he always made sure to send his regrets. A no show, however, was not something he did.

Calla reached for her phone and tried him again. Once more her call went straight to voicemail. “Frederick it’s me. Call me as soon as you can.” Calla almost immediately regretted leaving that voicemail.

What are the odds that Frederick is a no show on the same night that this archive mysteriously appears in my home? Calla thinks to herself. She wasn’t sure of the answer but she was sure that they were connected.

All of a sudden her phone began to ring. She quickly answered, praying that the rest of the house hadn’t heard.

“Hello?” She said.

“Calla, it’s me!”


He was breathing heavy into the phone as if he was in a hurry.

“Frederick is that you?” Calla asked, confused why he wasn’t calling from his phone.

“Calla, listen I don’t have much time. I know that you found the archive and it’s all true. I need you to know that they are going to try and cover it up but Dr. Harris can fix it. I need you to grab a pen and paper.”

“Frederick where are you? What is going on? Who is going to cover it up?” Calla could feel her heartbeat once more beating in her chest.

“The Crown Calla! Now grab a pen, I don’t have time.”

Calla had never heard Frederick so frantic. She quickly grabbed a pen from the holder and a fresh piece of paper from the scanner.

“Okay, I got it.”

“Alright, you need call Dr. Harris immediately at 81… Hey! What are you doing?! Get out of my car! No! Wait, just wait.”

“Frederick! Who is that? Frederick? Frederick?” Calla was yelling into the phone when the line when dead.

Calla stared at her phone in disbelief. She was on her own. But now she knew that it could be fixed. 

May 15, 2021 03:58

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Alyssa Rose
19:40 May 19, 2021

Wow, that was so interesting! I could really feel the emotions of the characters, and your descriptions were on point I could almost see them in front of me. I do hope this is not the end. Such an interesting plot too.


Annette Schmidt
19:18 May 21, 2021

Thank you sooo much! I'm glad you enjoyed it!


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