Time Travel'n Train

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A girl goes back in time in a time machine to try and make things right with her father before he dies in a cataclysmic event.

Submitted: March 21, 2016

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Submitted: March 21, 2016

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TIME TRAVEL'N TRAIN

 

 

"All aboard! All aboard Time Travel'n Train.  All aboard! All aboard Time Travel'n Train!!"

The train gave a loud hoot as it coasted into the station, its color a magnificent gold with a great big red star logo on its front.  The year was 2071 on a warm July day in Sacramento, California.  An 85 year old woman creaked her bones upright from a bench and approached the entryway with the other passengers.  Her name was Sara Coleman.

The inventor of the time machine was John Won.  He spent his whole life developing the theory of time travel and building a time machine in the form of a train.  He opened business three months ago with rousing success.  The price tag is heavy, but essentially you can travel as far back as 80 years into your past anywhere in the world.  Once you reach your destination you can stay for up to 24 hours.  However, you have to catch a ride back to your current present before 24 hours elapse or else you will cease to exist.  This is the risk of time travel, and everyone taking a ride has to agree with these terms.  Also, let it be known that nothing anybody can do in the past will change the outcome of the current present, just in case anyone has any silly ideas in their head.

Most people who ride Time Travel'n Train do so to right some kind of a wrong that happened in their past, thereby reinstating a sense of peace in their lives.  Others do it to relive a best moment in life.  Well, whatever the reason, John Won has booked his train to full capacity for three months straight and does not see his business slowing down any time soon.

Sara got in toward the end of the long line to board.  When she got to the entryway an assistant took her ticket, looked at the place and time of her destination, and blanched.  An instant worrisome look came upon the assistant as he weakly punched a hole.  Not only was the place and time disturbing, she lacked a return ticket!  "Ma'am," the assistant asked with concern, "Do you realize where this ticket says we are to take you?"

"Yes.  Of course."

"Well, O.K.  And you also realize that you do not have a return ticket so we won't be able to take you back.  No one has ever not come back from the past, you realize?"

The woman was not fazed.  "Certainly, sir.  I've already gone through all this with your manager.  I know my destination is troubling to you and I do not have enough money for a return ticket.  I have no intention of coming back anyway.  I have already signed all the papers releasing you from any responsibility for what happens to me."  The woman took out an envelope from her purse.  "Here."

The assistant went over the papers carefully, then shrugged his shoulders and handed back her ticket.  "Go on ahead.  You'll find your seat in the back.  Relax and enjoy your trip."

The woman shuffled her way down the aisle and looked at the other passengers.  They were mostly of an advanced age, with a few who looked like they were in their forties and fifties.  The ambience was quite nice, the colors of the floor and walls a somber green.  The seats were arranged around tables like booths in a restaurant.  Each seat was equipped with extensive safety straps, and when Sara took her seat she was helped by an attendant to get her properly strapped in.  It took a bit of time for everyone to get settled and prepared for departure.  The luggage carried on was mostly light for a 24 hour trip and easily stowed in the above compartments.  A man who looked to be in his seventies wearing a formal tuxedo sat next to Sara.  Sara said, "How do you do, sir?  You certainly looked decked out for an occasion.  May I ask where you are going?"

"Certainly.  Why, I am going to St. Louis, year 2052 to attend my daughter's wedding.  I missed the wedding on purpose because I did not approve of the boy she married.  I've never been able to forgive myself for my stubbornness.  She loved the boy after all and she gave me three beautiful grandchildren.  I hope to restore some sense of right by walking her down the aisle, what I should have done 19 years ago."

Sara shed a tear in response.  "Oh, that is just wonderful!  I'm sure everyone will be pleasantly surprised by your arrival.  You look so handsome."

The man gave Sara a winning smile.  "Thank you kindly.  My name is Dan by the way."  A couple of moments passed.  "Now do you mind if I ask where you are headed, uhm.....?"

"Sara."  An awkward moment ensued.  She was embarrassed because she was not willing to answer the same question she had asked herself.  But to her credit her story was much more personal and thus very hard to share. She remained quiet.

Dan took the hint and said,  "That's all right, Sara.  If it's too personal for you to say I understand.  Just know that I'll be wishing the best for you, O.K.?"

The train began to move, giving off two loud hoots and the sound of chugging motion.  Very gradually the train increased in speed, rolling down the tracks like the runway of an airplane.  As the train gained more speed down the runway, Sara closed her eyes and images began taking shape in her mind.  The train gained to the speeds of 40, 50, and 60, and Sara more deeply lost track of reality.  Then the rain reached 70 miles per hour, then 75.  When the train hit 80 miles per hour it instantaneously vanished from Earth to begin traveling into the past, and Sara was instantly transported into the past in her mind.

In her dream Sara was in her house on September 7, 2001.  It was late on a Friday night and Sara was upstairs in her room reading.  She was 15 years old and as of late was in a very sour mood.  She was very angry at her father and in her mind rightly so.  Two years ago her dad took on a new job that caused him to stay away from home to travel many places around the world.  It seemed only rarely to Sara that her dad, Todd, would show up in her life at all.  His painful absence built a strain on her and her mother that has climaxed to a crescendo.  The once intense love that Sara had felt for her father has now turned to hate.  Hate that her dad can't show up in her life.  Does he even still love her or her mother?  Doubtful.  His job is much too important to him now to give up.  This time her dad has been gone for eight weeks, the longest stretch he has ever been away.  From downstairs Sara heard her mother call up.  "Sara, can you come downstairs please?"

"What can this be about?"  Sara wondered.  She trudged downstairs to the living room and unexpectedly saw her father sitting next to her mother on the sofa.  Sara could barely look at her father.  Instead, she crossed her arms and focused on her mother.  Without looking at him Sara said curtly,  "Hi dad."

"Hey sweetie."  Todd sighed.  "Can't you even look at me?"

Sara forced a stare at Todd and said,  "So, what's this all about Dad?  You're not supposed to be here for another two weeks, remember?"

"I know, Sara.  I'm sorry I haven't been around much.  But you know I love you very much, don't you?"

"Sure."  Sara began to retreat inside herself as her mom and dad began to talk to her about their situation and how things have become between them.  Sara began to boil as she became acutely aware of where this was going and then her mom said, "Honey, we're getting a divorce."

All at once Sara lashed out at her father.  "This is all your fault, Dad.  All you care about is your stupid job.  I hate you, you know that?"  Sara's jaw began to quiver, her throat closing down.  "I HATE YOU, AND I HOPE YOU DIE!"  With that, Sara ran back upstairs to her room, slammed her door with all her might, and cried herself to sleep.

That was the last time she ever saw her dad alive.

 

"Next stop, St. Louis 2055.  Next stop, St. Louis 2055."  The voice over the intercom woke Sara out of her reverie.  Dan stood up from his seat and smiled at Sara.  "This is where I get off.  Nice meeting you, Sara."

Sara, still hung-over from her memory, managed, "Best of luck to you, Dan."  Sara watched as Dan made his way to the exit.  The door slid open from bottom to top to reveal a purplish hue, and then Dan stepped into it, vanishing from her eyes.

And so one by one, at intervals of approximately ten minutes, the train began to empty out as each person took their turn to reunite with their past.  The train traveled further and further into the past dropping people off all over the world, such as Toronto, Hong Kong, Budapest, Sydney, and Greece.  After eight hours Sara noticed she was the last person left.  An attendant came over to sit by Sara before the train took off again and strapped himself in.  He said,  "All right, Sara.  My name is Gary.  You're our last stop.  We have another twelve years to go so it will be about thirty more minutes.  We have never traveled this far back before, and I don't want to alarm you, but we are expecting some significant time turbulence.  We're pretty sure we'll make it but you never know with time travel.  I'll stay seated right here beside you.  Are you ready?" 

Sara nodded calmly.  Gary gave a thumbs up sign to the front and the train gained speed all the way to 80 miles per hour before starting its last leg.  The ride was fairly smooth for ten minutes but then turned progressively rougher as the turbulence hit, shaking the train violently until Sara was sure the ceiling would collapse.  That didn't happen and thirty-five minutes later the train halted at Sara's stop.  "Last stop.  Last stop is here!"  Yelled an attendant up front.

"Let me help you out."  Gary first unstrapped himself and then helped Sara out of her seat.  He guided her up front to the exit where two more attendants were waiting.  Then two pilots came out of the cockpit to greet Sara.  "Hi Sara.  My name is Pete and this is my co-pilot Jeff.  We want to personally thank you for riding with Time Travel'n Train and putting your trust in us.  For obvious safety reasons we have stopped ten miles away from your ultimate destination.  Do you have enough money for a taxi?"

"I can cover it."  Sara said.

"Fine.  Be rest assured ma'am that we will be waiting at this exact spot in 24 hours for your return."

Sara looked confused.  "Oh, but I do not have a return ticket and I was not planning on coming back anyway."

"This one's on the house, ma'am.  The least we can do is be here in 24 hours in case you change your mind, which we all hope you do."  Pete folded his arms.  "Well, I guess there's not much more to say.  Be careful, we implore you."

"Thanks, sir."

Jeff smiled and shook Sara's hand.  "Stay safe."  Then the three attendants wished Sara best of luck as the exit door slid open, revealing the purple glow.  Sara hesitated only briefly before stepping out into Lower Manhattan, New York City, early in the morning on September 11, 2001.

Sara could not explain to you how it happened but it definitely was a strange sensation as she metamorphosed into her former fifteen year old body.  She was now standing in a parking lot outside a mall.  The train was parked in an empty area in the back of the lot.  Sara could still see the train but the train was invisible to everyone else.

Oh what a feeling to be young again!  With abundant energy she ran to the entrance of the mall where a cab beckoned her.  Sara approached the cab and peered through the passenger window.  The cabbie was snoozing the morning away, his head resting on the driver side window.  Sara knocked tentatively, feeling vulnerable in her fifteen year old body.  The cab driver stirred at the sound, stretching himself awake.  He unlocked the passenger door and waved Sara in.

"Name's Jake.  Such a peaceful morning, you think?  Where you off to now?"

Sara knew this was going to sound weird.  "Take me to the World Trade Center, Twin Towers, please."

Jake looked at Sara a little closer.  "World Trade Center, huh?  Kind of an unusual place for a kid your age to be going.  I won't ask, though.  Certainly have had more unusual places to go.  The fare's gonna run you around twenty dollars.  Trust you can cover it?"

"I have enough, sir."

"Call me Jake.  Here we go."  The driver lurched the taxi away from the curb and began the ride.  Not much was said between the two.  Sara saw a clock on the dashboard, blinking 6:37 A.M.  Sara spent the next five minutes laboring to change the time on her old-fashioned wristwatch from the future to the time of the current past.  Then Sara thought of something.  "Is that the correct time there on the clock?"

Jake considered.  "Ah, I'd say it's about four minutes slow."

Sara made the adjustment on her watch.  It should be close enough.  The traffic was moderate at this hour on a Tuesday morning commute.  At 7:08 the cab pulled into the side of the North Tower.  "Here we are.  That'll come to $23.50."

Sara pulled the money out from her purse, folded a twenty and a ten and handed it to him.  "Keep the change."

"Generous of ya."

Sara put her hand on the door handle and paused.  She looked the man square in the eyes.  "Jake?"

He turned to meet Sara's gaze.  "Yes?"

"Promise me, that at 8:45 this morning, you'll be as far away from here as you possibly can."

"I don't know.  I go where my customers go."

"Promise me?"

Jake knew that Sara wasn't kidding around, and said convincingly, "You've got my word."

"Thanks.  Bye."  Sara got out and craned her neck up at the two buildings towering above her, dominating the New York City landscape.  It was too early to go inside just yet.  Sara stood sill, many emotions running through her at the same time.  She felt excitement, for she was about to see her father in flesh and blood for the first time in 70 years.  Sara had so much to say to her dad, and so little time to do it in.  She felt nervous and fear, for her time on Earth was nearly up and who isn't anxious of death when it's thrust upon you?  But most of all Sara felt love and sorrow.  She loved her father so much growing up it hurts to think about those times.  It wasn't right for her to leave things the way she did, wishing her dad to die!  Well, she got her wish, didn't she, and Sara never came close to getting over it.

The minutes ticked by threateningly as the sun rose over the horizon.  More people trickled inside the North Tower to start another day of work.  At 7:30 Sara entered the building and walked to the front desk.  Suddenly a crazy urgent thought hit Sara.  Why not warn everybody of what is about to happen?  Evacuate everyone inside the building and prevent anyone else from coming in, staying as safe a distance away as possible.  But then, who would believe her?  Also, Sara remembered the briefing before boarding the train, when it was stressed that......"Nothing you can do in the past will change the outcome of the current present.  You will have no effect."

"Then why am I even here?"  Sara wondered, but pushed the notion aside.

"May I help you, young lady?"  Asked a female receptionist.

"Yes.  I need to see my father, Todd Coleman.  He works on the 97th floor."

"What's your name?"

"Sara Coleman."

"Let me check for you."  The woman searched for a number and dialed.  She spoke for a minute and hung up.  "Your dad is in his office.  You can go on up now.  He said he'll wait for you at the elevator."

Sara got into the elevator with three other people.  "Floor?"  A man asked.

"97th."

The 97th floor, directly in the middle of impact, instantly killing everyone on that floor.  The elevator rose steadily to Sara's destiny, every emotion in her now taught.  Someone got out on the 34th, then another on 52nd.  Sara's floor was next.  The doors opened and there was Sara's father, confused and worried to see his daughter here.  "Honey?"

Sara couldn't believe her eyes.  "Oh dad!"  She threw herself full on him, a first wave of tears slamming her.

Todd brushed her hair out of her face.  "Shhhhh.  What's the matter?  Why aren't you at home?  Is your mom here with you?"

Sara released her grasp.  "I'm here by myself.  Dad, I need to TALK to you."

"O.K.  Let's go to my office.  We'll be more comfortable."

Todd led Sara down two long hallways to his new office and they stepped inside.  "This is my new office.  I got moved here three months ago.  It's pretty nice, I guess."  The room was spacious with a beautiful oak desk in the middle.  It had a window view.  Todd pointed at it.  "Nice view, huh?"

Sara didn't look, wiping tears away.  "It's nice, dad."

"Here, sit down in the recliner.  You look distraught."

Sara obeyed and took a seat.  Todd took his seat behind his desk.  "Dad......."  Sara faded out, not sure of what to say.

"Oh, wait.  You want a drink?  Hungry?  We have some orange juice and Danishes in the lounge.  I'll be right back."  Todd left before Sara could respond.

She sat still for a few seconds and then gradually became aware of the large window in front of her.  It was a nice view, but..........Wait a second.  Hypnotized, Sara got up and walked closer to the window like a zombie, her legs moving deeper into quicksand.  She stared out the window blankly, replaying the news footage in her mind over and over.  It couldn't be, but it was true.  Sara's eyes widened with amazement and horror.  This is the very side of the building where it struck!  Sara stood there absolutely frozen until Todd came back in and put an arm around her waist.

"Not bad, eh?"

Sara looked into his eyes, feeling comforted.  They stood there a few minutes in silent reflection.

"Why don't you sit back down and we'll get to the bottom of this.  I have the juice and Danishes."

Sara returned to the recliner and poured some juice with a slightly shaky hand.  She took several sips.  Todd clenched his hands and said, "So, what is this all about?"

"Dad, I just........"  Sara fell quiet.

"What?"

Sara tried again but nothing came out.  Why couldn't she talk?  She was fast becoming angry at herself, for precious seconds were passing away and she had so much to say.  She had spent her whole life keeping inside everything she wanted to say to her dad, and now she couldn't say anything?

Todd mildly stroked his chin.  "Could this be about what you said to me Friday night?"

Her dad hit it straight on, and tears started rolling down Sara's cheeks.  "Yes."

Todd noticed the tears and softened his eyes.  "Well, you know hon,  I've been thinking a lot about what you said to me, and it's really hit home.  You have a right to dislike me.  I haven't been a good father to you lately.  And I know you didn't mean it when you said you hope I die.  You were upset, but it definitely hit home."

Sara forced her eyes on Todd.  "I didn't mean it dad."

"I know." A pause.  "Like I said, I've been thinking a lot about what you said, and I've decided there's going to be some changes."

Changes?  "What do you mean?"

"Well, for one, this is my last day of work at this job.  I quit yesterday and am clearing my desk today.  Your mom doesn't know yet, but I'm telling her today.  I really hope we'll get back together because I still love her, and for your sake of course.  I just hope she still loves me."

Sara burst out.  "She still loves you, dad.  She's madly in love with you.  She never stopped loving you."

Todd smiled.  "All right, then.  We'll get back together and I'll get another job close to home, that never leaves home.  I'll spend all my free time with Mom and you.  We can do whatever you want together."

Sara brightened up and momentarily forgot what was about to happen.  "That's wonderful, dad.  This weekend we can........."  Sara trailed off, reality sinking back in.

"What?"

"Well, I'm not sure."  Sara looked at her watch.  It was 8:00.  "Dad, can we get out of here right now?  Get as far away from this building as possible?"

"What do you mean?  We're fine right here.  Let's chat for awhile."

Sara didn't want to argue.  "All right, dad."

Time flew by a Sara talked to Todd about various topics, including her friends and a potential boyfriend.  "Oh really? Do tell."  And Sara told him about Mike, a cute boy she met at tennis camp.  They haven't gone out on a date yet, but Sara hopes he'll ask her out soon.  And then Sara talked for a spell about the new school year and the different courses she will be taking, one with her favorite teacher.  Sara glanced at her watch.  It was now 8:41.  The plane will hit at 8:46.  Sara fell silent and began to sweat.

"You all right, honey?"

"Dad, do you believe in God?"

The question caught Todd by surprise because it seemed out of left field to him.  Religion was never a part of their lives, so she never knew what he believed.  Sara began to shiver waiting for her dad to answer.

Todd took a couple of moments, but answered straight on.  "Of course I do.  I know we haven't been church goers in our lives, but I've developed a strong belief in the last couple years.  Everything will be all right in his hands."

It was 8:44.  Sara stood up and shook all over her body.  Todd stood up too, and saw an indescribable look on Sara's face.  "OH DAD!" Sara ran to her father and embraced him for all she was worth.  "I LOVE YOU SO MUCH."

In those last few moments Sara cried in Todd's shirt, soaking it completely through.  At the same time she said a prayer to God, lifting up her dad and all the victims of this terrible day.  And at the same time she felt an overwhelming peace as a noise began to grow in the air, her dad clutching at her saying "What is..........?"

And then the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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