The Day She Left
“Beeeeeep! Beeeep! Beeep!” Sarah searched desperately for the source – the source of the strange sound emanating through all of the town at 3:13pm on February 1, 2150. Her light brown hair flew over her shoulders as she looked left, right, up, down, and then she saw that the town had installed small speakers on the top of the lamp posts. She wouldn’t have even noticed them if they weren’t radiating this obnoxious sound. When did they get here? She wondered. When had these spy-like speakers been installed around Leisata? Sarah gazed up with her scared brown eyes, the light from the lamppost shining bright in the evening after sunset. It was as if she needed to see the speaker to comprehend the sound, though she knew that wouldn’t help. The beeping was incomprehensible – but somehow, it seemed like some of the residents knew what was happening that day…
Parents were fleeing the streets, dragging their children close behind them. The kids just looked confused like Sarah. The parents had sheer terror written across their faces, yet Sarah could tell most of the adults had some sort of idea what was going on.
“Attention all citizens of Leisata. This is your Chief, Gary Luis. This is not a drill. Please return to your homes and remain inside until further instructions have been given. I repeat, this is not a drill. Thank you.”
Sarah’s jaw dropped. This had to be a joke, she thought. But what if it’s not? She turned on the heels of her white sneakers and saw the frantic scene before her. The children that weren’t in tow with their parents were running as fast as they could back to their houses, with family members waiting outside their homes, waving them closer, faster. Sarah had been on her way to the park, about a 10-minute bike ride from her home. She started to feel her heart slam against her ribcage as she prayed she would get home in time. In time for what? She wondered. What was going on?! If someone could just explain to her what was occurring, maybe she could prepare herself appropriately – maybe she could even help. But there was no hope of more information. Though the loud beeping continued, Gary Luis’s voice was silent after he made his short announcement.
Unsure of what to do, Sarah started pedaling on her pink bike down the street to her house. After a few minutes, her small yellow house came into view. The windows were covered with the blue shutters, the old car was parked in the driveway, and her mom and dad were waiting at the open front door, faces white as a sheet. Though Sarah’s house was not large, not fancy, in this moment, it seemed like the safest, most enticing place to be.
“Sarah! Hurry up! Get inside!” Her mom called out hysterically.
“What’s going on?” Sarah asked as she stepped through the front door and her mom slammed it shut, locking both the knob and the deadbolt.
Her mom hung up the call projector. Sarah could see the message displayed on the wall in the living room, like usual, with the weekend news, but all of a sudden, the screen went black and a loud screeching noise was coming from the walls of the house, as if it was attacking the family from the outside.
“I don’t know for sure what’s going on yet,” Sarah’s mom said, trying to keep her voice calm, but failing. “But that announcement has only happened once before.” She stomped her foot in anger. “I knew something was up when the speakers appeared in the streets again! They used to be out all the time, but the Chiefs got rid of them fifteen years ago.” She appeared to be deep in thought for a minute – her eyes unfocused, her arms slack at her sides. “I thought we were past this,” was all she could manage to say before she grabbed Sarah’s arm and pulling her deeper into the living room.
“Past what?” Sarah asked. “Past what, Mom?”
“We were sworn not to mention it,” she whispered. “They told us it would never happen again. That it was a figment of our imaginations. That if we ignored it, it would go away…”
“What are you talking about, Mom? You’re making no sense.” Sarah cried, grabbing onto her mom’s shoulders, which were only a couple of inches higher than her own, trying to shake the sense into her.
Sarah’s dad approached quietly from the dining room, surprising his already jumpy daughter and wife.
“Honey, it’s time,” he said simply. Sarah’s dad looked uncomfortable, his tall, wiry frame almost unnatural, as he tried to set his stance, hold his ground. It was like he was setting himself up to defend the family, though Sarah had no idea what they needed protection from.
Sarah’s mom’s mouth was hanging open in dread. But at those words, she closed it, set her jaw, and nodded confidently. Her mom looked much more natural in this setting, like she knew exactly what was expected of her, and she accepted it.
“We have to go now,” her dad instructed forcefully. “Amanda, come on.”
He awkwardly led the way across the living room.
“Frank,” Amanda uttered, “shouldn’t we explain?”
“You know there’s no time.”
“But where are we going?” Sarah asked. “What is going on? Someone, tell me!” She screamed at both her parents. Sarah stopped. Her dad was standing in front of her, her mom behind her, trying to urge Sarah forward by pushing the small of her back.
“We have to go,” Amanda reiterated, without a hint of further explanation.
Frank took three large steps, covering the rest of the space between himself and the basement door. Sarah thought they were going into the basement, but then, at the last second, he reached to the right of the door and pushed on the wall, and something strange happened – the wall slid aside, revealing a long, dark tunnel.
When did this get here? Sarah wondered, though she was too shocked to voice her question.
Sarah was still standing several feet behind her dad, and her mom was still urging her forward, though Sarah’s feet were stuck in place. She just couldn’t move.
“This is our escape route,” Frank said. “Sweetie,” he said to Sarah, not unkindly. “I can’t explain now, but you have to trust me. We have to go.”
Sarah remained rooted to the spot she was standing in. But then, her mom gave Sarah a little push. Her legs and feet began to move again. Her dad reached out for her hand and pulled her through the wall, into the tunnel. He led the way with a small, bright flashlight. Her mom followed close behind, sliding the wall shut behind them, and the light from the house disappeared.
They walked for what seemed like ages, up rocky hills, down slippery slopes. It was like they were hiking up and down a mountain. Sarah was in the dark, both physically and mentally – she had no idea what was going on, but she had never seen her parents look so serious, so she kept her mouth shut and kept moving.
Sarah thought it was getting lighter up ahead, but she couldn’t be sure. Soon enough, they reach a large clearing – it was made of stone and the walls were bare, but the space was large enough to hold a couple of hundred people, Sarah thought, though no one else was there.
“They’re not here,” Sarah’s mom muttered under her breath. “Frank, where are they?” she asked her husband.
“Give them time, Amanda,” he replied. “It’s only been about an hour. Some of them are farther away from headquarters than us.”
Sarah looked from her mom to her dad in disbelief. Give who time? She wondered. What headquarters?
Then Sarah heard faint footsteps, getting louder and stronger each second, as if a herd of elephants were running right at them.
The wall in front of Sarah suddenly burst open – bits of rock flying through the air as if it was blown up from the other side. Then she noticed there was another tunnel on the other side of the hole in the wall.
There was dust in the air, and Sarah couldn’t make out the details, but she definitely saw the outline of a large…well, she didn’t know what it was.
Taking a big breath, Sarah tried to prepare herself to face the creature before her.
Then the dust cleared and Sarah saw what had broken through the wall – it was like a giant, the top half of him a man, the bottom half a horse. She thought she had read about something like this before, but she couldn’t quite recall…Chief Luis of Leisata was in charge of the reading material for the citizens. Most of the books she read were nonfiction or mysteries. Now she remembered - there was that one fantasy book that made it into her house years ago. It was her favorite at the time - The Woodland Journey - and it definitely mentioned a creature like this one.
Sarah continued to stare at the creature that had magically appeared and seemed to be offering no explanation for its sudden intrusion on her family’s escape from Leisata. She was picking the pink nail polish off her right thumb - the only nail that had any color left - as was her typical behavior when she was in deep thought. It chipped away a little at a time, and just as Sarah was getting the last bit off, she remembered - it’s a Centaur! That was the strange half-horse half-man. But, this couldn’t be real. Everything leading up to that moment led Sarah to believe this was a dream, or maybe a nightmare. Did she really leave Leisata? Did her parents really lead her down a secret passageway in their house? Was she actually looking at a Centaur, standing not more than two feet away from her now?
She couldn’t think straight. Sarah abandoned the nail polish that was still clinging to her thumb nail, and decided to speak up. “Who are you?” She asked the Centaur innocently.
“Hello,” the centaur spoke in a deep, scratchy voice, looking at Sarah and then quickly looking away without answering her question. “Is she ready?” He turned his honest, black eyes toward Frank and Amanda. They nodded solemnly, gaze lowered, as if looking the Centaur in the eyes would cause them immense pain.
“Come, child,” the centaur said kindly, waving a hand the size of a dinner plate. He called Sarah towards him. “I am Elozar, and I am here to take you to your homeland.”
Now Sarah was even more confused. “But this is my homeland; this is my family,” Sarah said exasperatedly, gesturing towards her mom and dad, as if this was a simple misunderstanding that could be righted with a child’s word.
“Your new family” Elozar announced, “is waiting for you in ForeverLand. They are expecting you momentarily, and we dare not leave them waiting long.” He paused, then looked at Amanda. “How much did you tell her?”
“Nothing,” Sarah’s mother answered sheepishly. She crossed her arms tighter across her chest, seemingly holding her heart in place, refusing to believe that Elozar could do such a thing.
“Foolish woman!” Elozar said. “I told you I’d be back in 15 years. Did you not believe me?”
“Well,” she started, “we talked to Chief Luis.”
“Why would you do that!?” Elozar screamed.
“That’s what we were always taught to do - go to the Chief if there was any talk or sense of magic. But he told us to forget what we thought we saw and move on with our lives.”
“We couldn’t argue,” she explained. “We had no evidence. It was our word against the Chief’s! Who was anyone to believe?!” She cried, tears beginning to stream down her cheeks.
“Clearly,” Elozar said angrily, “The Chief is further gone than even I believed. This is destiny that he is interfering with! I have come for Sarah – the last of the Timebenders.”
Then Sarah’s mom and dad looked furious. “What do you mean, the last!?” They yelled together, echoing in the alcove where they stood together, the family of three, and Elozar.
“You told us there were others coming when we talked to you last,” Sarah’s mom, Amanda, whined, looking much like a small child herself. “You told us this was the headquarters for all the Timebenders, that she wouldn’t be alone!”
“Times have changed.” Elozar announced. “I have travelled to the other locations that were told to have the Timebenders, but it seems they could not control their powers. They have been lost. There are others in ForeverLand, but Sarah is the last that will be coming with us.” he explained, though Sarah didn’t understand.
“Timebenders? Last? What are you all getting at?” Sarah asked at last, her voice had returned and she was determined to get answers this time.
“She needs an explanation,” Frank said to Elozar. “She deserves to know what is happening.”
“Well,” Elozar continued, “that seems to be where you both have failed her, isn’t it? You were instructed to give her the appropriate information when the time was right, yet the time has passed and she is still in the dark.” Elozar might as well have had steam coming out of his ears, he was so visibly angry. But instead, he kept his voice calm. “There is no time to explain now. It is too late. Sarah must come with me and we will explain when she arrives in ForeverLand.” He stopped there and held out his hand to Sarah, as if that was all the explanation she needed, as if that was enough of a reason to abandon her parents, her home, and go with a strange creature that she wasn’t even sure existed. She didn’t budge. Elozar’s hand remained hanging in the air in front of her, while Sarah’s own hands were stuck tight by her side.
Elozar sighed, realizing that Sarah was not going to come with him without more information. “I do not have enough time to explain enough to appease you, but will a demonstration suffice?” he asked Sarah expectantly.
She considered his question. She didn’t know what this demonstration would be, but it seemed like it would be the most she would get out of this group before she was forced to go to some unknown land. So, she did all she could – she nodded in agreement.
Elozar smiled, his first genuine smile since he arrived. His pearly white teeth were sharp like knives, but somehow the smile was still welcoming. Sarah felt herself relax, just a bit.
Elozar reached into the satchel that was hanging over his shoulder – Sarah just realized it had been hanging there all along – and pulled out what looked like a large egg. It was the size of a grapefruit, blue, and speckled. Sarah had never seen anything like it before.
Then, Elozar put the egg in Sarah’s hands and he covered her hands with his own.
“Count backwards from ten,” he instructed, “and think about what you imagine is inside this egg.”
Sarah thought this a strange instruction, but she didn’t know what else to do. She imagined a dinosaur. That was the first thing that popped into her head.
Suddenly, Sarah could feel the egg cracking in her hands. Elozar’s hands were still covering the top, but when he removed them, Sarah was beside herself. In her hands, was a small creature, that she thought, must be a baby dinosaur. It was purple and had spikes down its back, but it couldn’t have been larger than a kitten.
“What just happened?” Sarah asked Elozar.
“You bent time.” He said simply.
“It’s magic. And because you can do that the Chief here will be after you as soon as your powers start showing. You won’t be able to control them at first, and you know that Leisata does not permit any magic.”
“But how is that even possible?” Sarah asked. “There’s no such thing as magic.”
Sarah turned her head back and saw her mom and dad’s faces drop. They didn’t know this would happen. They hadn’t expected this.
“So, it’s true,” Amanda said quietly. “She really is…”
Elozar continued. “The alarms today were placed in preparation for me. They knew I was here, because I tried to talk to the Chief - to talk some reason into him, but of course he didn’t listen. Instead he installed these awful speakers again and set off an alarm when I didn’t leave Leisata last night.”
“Again?” Sarah asked. “So he’s done this before?”
“I was here 15 years ago. When you were born. I told your parents about your abilities and warned them against sharing the information with anyone.” He glared at Frank and Amanda.
“We didn’t know this would happen!” Amanda cried. “We were raised to believe there is no magic and then you showed up out of nowhere…”
“Well,” Elozar said, “now we all know the truth.”
Frank turned to his wife and took her hand, looking more confident and comfortable than before. “Honey, with what we just saw, Sarah isn’t safe here.” He nodded at his wife, and then they both turned their eyes towards Elozar, waiting for the next instructions.
“That is all I have time to show you, Sarah,” Elozar said to the girl. “Now,” he begged, “can we go – Please?”
Sarah didn’t know what to say - if what Elozar said was true, she wouldn’t be able to stay in Leisata once her powers started showing, so what option did she have? She didn’t even realize she was nodding and reaching her right hand out towards Elozar’s, the small dinosaur sitting in her left hand, making not a sound, barely moving, though she was aware of its presence.
Elozar turned to the wall where he had broken through to enter the alcove with Sarah and her parents. “This is where we leave you,” he said to her mom and dad. “Please, say your goodbyes.” Elozar started walking toward the hole in the wall and left Sarah and her parents close behind him.
“Sarah,” her mom said, then stopped, choked up with emotion.
“We love you,” her dad said, picking up where her mom left off.
Then her mom and dad each reached an arm around their daughter, forming a group hug of sorts.
Sarah was terrified. But part of her was also calm, almost peaceful. She had seen what she did to the egg, and she knew there was more to come. She had to follow Elozar. She had to find out what was in store for her.
“Goodbye, Mom, Dad,” Sarah said, letting go of her parents and walking towards Elozar and the hole in the wall. She stepped over the pile of rubble that had broken with the wall, and looked back once more at her parents before she made her way down another mysterious, dark tunnel, now with the unlikely company of a centaur. Where did this path lead? She knew Elozar said they were going to ForeverLand, but where exactly was that? Sarah had the sense that her whole life was about to change. In fact, she believed her life as she knew it was now over – a new life would soon begin.
What did you think? Be brutally honest because I’m always looking for ways to build on my stories.
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